Finding affordable health insurance can be a challenge whether you are shopping through your workplace or in the private market. No matter where you get your insurance coverage, it is important that you know how to compare prices and benefits so that you always get the most for your money and receive the coverage you need for your health.

Taking the time to compare multiple health insurance plans may feel like a hassle, but it is arguably the best way to ensure that you are getting the best deal. Regardless of whether you are shopping for a private plan on getting coverage through your work, it is always a good idea to look at more than one option. Below, learn more about ways you can save on health care insurance and discover the best providers you can choose from.

Where to Find Cheap Health Insurance

When trying to choose the best health insurance, there are many factors to consider. If you are like most people, price is one of the biggest things you will weigh when picking a policy. Understanding what constitutes a good price is just as important as knowing which factors affect how much you end up paying for your coverage.

Your biggest health insurance cost will probably be your premium, which is the out-of-pocket amount you pay each month in order to have coverage. The exact amount of your premium is ultimately set by the health care insurance company that you choose, but each company must use the same criteria in determining what your premium is. By law, companies can only consider the following categories when setting your premium:

  • Your age
  • Where you live
  • Whether you use tobacco
  • Whether you sign up for individual health insurance or enroll your whole family
  • The plan category you choose

Most health insurance plans fall into the category of bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Certain plans are also categorized as “catastrophic” coverage, but these are less common. The plan category you choose affects how much you pay out-of-pocket compared to the amount that your insurer covers. In any case, choosing a lower-level plan will not affect the quality of care that you receive.

Your health insurance deductible, copayment and coinsurance amount will also affect how much you pay for coverage overall. Even if you get coverage with a low premium, you could end up paying more out-of-pocket if you have a plan with a high deductible and see the doctor a lot. Generally, plans with lower deductibles tend to have higher premiums, whereas low-premium plans usually have higher deductibles.

Once you understand what affects the prices of private health insurance, it is easier to begin shopping for a policy that fits your needs. The federal health insurance marketplace is where most people end up buying a policy when they are ineligible for coverage through an employer or spouse’s employer. Through this marketplace, you can get quotes for a variety of plans, which will help you compare prices and coverage details.

One of the most important things to understand about getting coverage through the marketplace is health insurance open enrollment. Unfortunately, you cannot sign up for insurance or switch your coverage outside of open enrollment unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. For example, getting married, being pregnant or losing work-based insurance coverage may qualify you for special enrollment.

If you cannot find affordable health insurance through any method, remember that you can always check your eligibility for government plans such as Medicare, Medicaid or, if you have kids, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Learn About Affordable Health Insurance Companies

In some cases, finding cheap health insurance all comes down to the company you choose. Some providers have a wider variety of affordable options than others, so it is always a good idea to research what is available. Using the health insurance marketplace is a good way to compare companies that have plans you may qualify for. However, you can also do your research outside of the marketplace.

When getting health insurance quotes, remember that price is just one of the many factors you should consider. Be sure to pay attention to other important details such as customer service, coverage options and a company’s reputation with its customers. With that in mind, some of the most popular providers include:

  • Aetna health insurance is one of the most widely used plans when it comes to employer-based insurance coverage. These plans typically come with a large provider network and give members access to a wide range of wellness programs.
  • United Health insurance is ranked as one of the best providers for online care due to the fact that you can order prescriptions, chat with nurses and get other types of care from the comfort of their homes.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance is one of the largest insurance providers not just in the U.S., but in other countries. Because this company has one of the largest provider networks, you can usually find coverage no matter where you are.

While many providers serve the entire U.S., others only operate in a few states. However, many of the best insurers are regional companies. Cigna health insurance, for example, has a great online interface that allows customers to access a helpline, get medicines delivered at home or participate in rewards programs. Humana health insurance is another regional provider that has a great reputation despite not being available nationally.

Oscar Health insurance is one of the newest insurance companies but has quickly earned a reputation for being a user-friendly, technology-based insurance provider. This provider is also only available in a few states, but it is expected to expand in the future.

As you are comparing plans, you will find that some types of insurance are only available to people who meet certain requirements. For example, USAA health insurance is a type of coverage for service members, veterans and their families. Similarly, AARP health insurance is only available to people who meet specific age requirements.

Some plans, such as Cobra health insurance, are designed to meet a specific insurance need. When individuals lose their work-based insurance coverage, they may use a Cobra plan to avoid facing a gap in coverage.

Other types of cheap health insurance can only be obtained if you are a member of certain organizations. For example, Costco has its own insurance marketplace where you can shop for plans and get specialized support in choosing the right type of coverage for you. To use this service, you must be a member of Costco, which requires paying annual membership fees. Note that this service differs from the Costco health insurance that is offered to employees.