In Washington, individual health insurance is available for purchase through the HealthPlanFinder marketplace. Health coverage is also available through Medicaid if your household income falls below 138% of the federal poverty level. After reviewing policies from 10 of the largest counties in Washington, we found that the Ambetter Balanced Care 4 was the cheapest Silver plan available in seven of the counties.
- Cheapest Health Insurance Coverage by Metal Tier
- Short-Term Health Insurance in Washington
- Health Insurance Companies in Washington
- Cheapest Silver Plan by County
Cheapest Health Insurance by Metal Tier
Washington state’s individual health insurance is broken down into four different metal tiers: Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver and Gold. We researched and compared policies offered in the 10 largest counties to identify the most affordable health plan at each metal tier. These are the cheapest policies overall, but plan availability depends on the county in which you live. Therefore, the table below should be used as an initial starting point to identify a metal tier that fits your needs and income.
|Metal tier||Cheapest plan||Deductible||Out-of-pocket maximum||Monthly cost for 40-year-old|
|Catastrophic||Core Basic Plus Catastrophic||$7,900||$7,900||$241.10|
|Bronze||KP WA Bronze 5700/30% HSA||$5,700||$6,550||$311.64|
|Silver||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$7,050||$7,050||$343.14|
|Gold||Ambetter Secure Care 1 w/ 3 Free PCP Visits||$1,000||$6,350||$406.28|
Sample rates are based on the largest 10 counties in Washington.
As you can see, the higher metal tiers have higher premiums but lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. For example, the Ambetter Secure Care 1 has a premium that costs $95 more per month than the KP WA Bronze 5700/30% HSA, but the deductible is $6,900 less expensive.
The health insurance quote you receive will be determined by your age as well. Since you are likely to use more health services when you are older, health coverage and premiums will become more expensive as you age. For example, for a Silver tier policy, a 40-year-old would pay 28% more than a 21-year-old for health insurance in Washington—or $96 more per month on average.
Finding the Best Health Insurance Coverage in Washington
The best health insurance coverage for you will depend on your level of income and medical needs. Besides individual health insurance, Washington offers Medicaid coverage through its Apple Health program. Furthermore, the state has passed legislation that expands Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Household incomes that are less than 138% of the federal poverty level can enroll in federally funded health care.
Before choosing a plan, you should analyze the premiums and deductibles for each metal tier and decide on affordability based on your income and savings. Below, we have provided an in-depth look at each metal tier and broken down situations in which they make the most sense.
Start With Silver Plans
Silver metal plans are where we recommend you begin your health insurance search, as these policies have moderate premiums and deductibles. This policy would work best in most situations unless you are very healthy or expect a number of expensive medical costs. In that case, Bronze or Gold coverage may work better for you.
Silver policies are the only health insurance plans that offer cost-sharing reductions if your income falls below 250% of the federal poverty level. A cost-sharing reduction is an added benefit that decreases the amount you pay for copays, coinsurance and deductibles. For this reason, Silver tier policies can sometimes be the most cost-effective plan offered on the health insurance exchange.
Bronze and Catastrophic Plans: Best for Young, Healthy Individuals
Bronze and Catastrophic plans are the cheapest plans offered on the Washington HealthPlanFinder marketplace. Although these plans have low premiums, they have high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, which makes reaching the coinsurance level difficult. For this reason, Bronze and Catastrophic tier policies are best if you are healthy and want coverage in case of an extremely costly, unexpected medical expense.
Bronze plans are available to anyone in Washington, but Catastrophic policies are only available if you are under 30 years old or qualify for an exemption.
Gold Plans: Best if You Have High Medical Expenses
The top and most expensive tier offered in Washington is Gold. These plans are often the best if you expect to have high medical costs during the plan year. In this case, since the deductible is the lowest available, you would be able to reach it quickly and then have access to coinsurance with your health plan provider.
Short-Term Health Insurance in Washington
Historically, Washington has banned the sale of short-term health insurance. However, the state adopted new rules in 2019 allowing insurers to sell short-term health insurance with a maximum coverage length of three months. Unfortunately, there are currently no health insurers offering short-term health insurance plans in Washington.
Best Cheap Health Insurance Companies in Washington
There are currently five health insurance providers on the Washington state marketplace:
- Kaiser Permanente
- Molina Healthcare
- Premera Blue Cross
- Coordinated Care
Although all of these insurance companies sell policies in the state, they may not offer plans in your county. For example, Kitsap County residents only have access to policies offered by Kaiser Permanente and Premera Blue Cross.
Cheapest Silver Plan by County
The cost of your health insurance and the available policies will vary depending on the county in which you live. For example, the Ambetter Balanced Care 4 has a monthly premium of $372.97 for a 40-year-old in Snohomish County, but it costs only $343.14 per month for the same person in Spokane County. Below, we have identified the cheapest Silver policy available for the 10 largest counties in Washington state.
|County||Cheapest plan||Premium adult, age 21||Premium adult, age 40||Premium adult, age 60|
|Benton||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$273.12||$349.03||$741.22|
|Clark||Molina Choice Silver||$348.08||$444.84||$944.68|
|King||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$288.10||$368.18||$781.88|
|Pierce||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$290.12||$370.76||$787.35|
|Snohomish||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$291.85||$372.97||$792.04|
|Spokane||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$268.51||$343.14||$728.71|
|Thurston||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$290.12||$370.76||$787.35|
|Yakima||Ambetter Balanced Care 4||$273.12||$349.03||$741.22|