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Health insurance can help you get the preventative care you need to avoid bigger problems down the road. It can also grant you peace of mind in knowing that, if a health crisis strikes, the majority of the costs will be covered. But where can you find the best health insurance plans as a young adult in 2022? To find out, we’ve reviewed a lineup of carriers based on their plan features, plan costs, third-party ratings, company financials, and availability. Here are the five that came out on top.
Most Tech-Savvy : Oscar
Affordable bronze and silver plans
Versatile plan types and features
Child dental available
Oscar app incentivizes healthy habits
Only available in 21 states
2.75 NCQA rating
Oscar is a tech-savvy startup that offers a comprehensive lineup of healthcare plans. Additionally, you’ll find a variety of health management programs, including one for weight loss, which is rare amongst competitors. As for pricing, the carrier offers plans with $0 copays for both gold and silver plans.
Younger, tech-savvy adults may also appreciate Oscar’s highly rated app. It syncs with Apple Health or Google Fit and will pay you $1 every day that you hit your step goals, up to $75 per year. You can also use the app to find care near you, message your care team, review your plan, and more.
That said, Oscar doesn’t offer platinum plans and is only available in 21 states. It’s also worth noting that the company earned a lower average National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rating than many of its competitors. But overall, Oscar plans can be a great fit for younger adults looking for a good balance of quality coverage and affordability.
Cheapest Plans With Premium Tax Credits : Aetna
Eligible for 100% coverage by premium tax credits
$0 walk-in visits at CVS MinuteClinics
750 J.D. Power and Associates score
Low-priced plans with low copays
No platinum or catastrophic coverage
No dental coverage
Aetna’s marketplace plans are eligible to be 100% covered by premium tax credits. This isn’t the case with all plans—for example, only 95% of the premium may be covered by tax credits with some plans. Hard to beat free premiums! However, the cost of your insurance and credits will depend on various factors including your location, income, household size, and more.
For 2023, the company has released bronze plans in several markets that are blowing past the competition. Many bronze plans, for example, require that you pay a $9,100 deductible before you can access low-cost copays on generic drugs, doctors, and specialists. But not Aetna, which offers plans with $25 copays on generics and $50 and $100 copays on PCPs and specialists without requiring the deductible be paid first.
What’s more, Aetna offers free and low-cost walk-in visits at CVS MinuteClinics where you can get care for minor illnesses and injuries without the hassle and expense of an urgent care or ER visit. Aetna also fares well overall in ratings for customer satisfaction and financial stability.
Best for Catastrophic Coverage : Blue Cross Blue Shield
Offers catastrophic plans
Large provider network
Strong third-party ratings
More expensive bronze and silver plans
Pricing varies by state
BCBS made our list thanks to its catastrophic coverage for young adults. Catastrophic coverage is designed primarily for adults 30 and under who don’t qualify for premium tax credits. It includes essential health benefits like preventive care and comes with low monthly premiums. However, it has very high deductibles. The main benefit is basic preventative care along with coverage for worst-case scenarios.
When you choose BCBS for catastrophic coverage, you get a trusted provider with a far-reaching network. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) provides one in three Americans with health insurance. It serves all 50 states and the District of Columbia, offers many plan options and types, and earns high ratings from third parties. However, it’s also one of the more expensive carriers—particularly when it comes to its bronze and silver plans.
Cheapest Bronze Plans for Young Adults : Molina Healthcare
Lowest-cost bronze plan
Bronze, silver, and gold plans
2-star rating from Healthcare.gov
No dental coverage
Molina stands out when it comes to its low-cost bronze plans, especially for young adults who expect to use their plans. We researched deductible and premium costs for 25-year-olds across many carriers and metal levels. Molina’s deductibles were particularly low, considering its affordable premiums. For example, Molina offers bronze plans with $0 health deductibles and a $3,000 drug deductible in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Other bronze plans in the area have a $9,100 deductible, and premiums that are up to $100 less. Lower monthly premiums are great, but they may not make up for a $6,000 higher deductible.
But on other fronts, Molina isn’t a top performer. It generally offers HMO plans, which means you’re strictly limited to in-network providers, and dental coverage is unavailable on the plans we reviewed. Plus, Healthcare.gov and the NCQA give the company's plans a 2-star rating. That said, if you’re a young adult looking for healthcare on a tight budget, Molina is worth looking into.
The best health insurance plan for you is going to depend on the details of your personal situation. However, these four are worth considering if you’re a young adult. A good place to start your search is with value-packed Aetna, especially if you qualify for tax credits, or tech-savvy Oscar. However, if affordability is your top priority, Molina is worth checking out for its low-deductible bronze plans. If you don’t qualify for premium tax credits and don’t expect to use your plan much, catastrophic coverage from Blue Shield Blue Cross could be a good option.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Is Health Insurance?
The cost of health insurance varies based on factors such as the plan you choose and whether you qualify for the premium tax credit. Insurers are only allowed to consider five factors to determine your costs: age, location, tobacco use, individual vs. family enrollment, and plan category. For example, when looking at insurance costs for 25-year-olds, the premiums on bronze plans averaged about $294 and deductibles averaged $8,133. As you browse plans, look at all of the costs you’ll incur, including a plan’s premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
What Is a Health Insurance Copayment?
A copayment is an amount that an insurer requires you to pay for a healthcare service—commonly for prescription drugs and doctor visits. In some cases, you may be able to pay the copay for services before your deductible is met. For example, a plan may have a $2,000 deductible but a $50 copay on doctor visits and a $15 copay on prescription drugs. The copays help to make certain services more affordable before the deductible is satisfied.
What Is a Deductible in Health Insurance?
A health insurance deductible is the amount you must pay per year for healthcare services before your coinsurance kicks in and begins to cover a percentage of your costs. Insurance policies define costs that count toward your deductible and those that don’t. For example, lab tests, MRIs, and hospital bills typically count towards your deductible while premiums don’t. Copays may or may not count. So if your deductible is $2,000 and your coinsurance is 30%, you’d have to pay $2,000 in qualifying healthcare expenses before your insurance would start covering 70% of your costs.
What Is a Catastrophic Plan?
A catastrophic health insurance plan is a low-premium, high-deductible health insurance plan for people who are under 30 years old, or who qualify for a hardship or affordability exemption. It includes the ten essential health benefits and no-cost preventive services required by all plans in the Marketplace. Additionally, it covers at least three primary care visits per year before you’ve paid your deductible. Premium tax credits don’t apply to catastrophic coverage plans, so they typically won’t offer the best value unless you don’t qualify for a tax credit on a bronze or silver plan.
To determine the best health insurance companies for young adults, we considered criteria in the following categories.
- Customer satisfaction: We used NCQA ratings, primarily, and healthcare.gov ratings, secondarily, to measure this criteria.
- State availability: This measure indicates how widely available plans are across the U.S.
- Plan features: For each company, we collected and analyzed whether it offered the following:
- Types of plans: HMO, PPO, EPO, POS, and other plan types
- Plan benefits: Programs to help manage asthma, heart disease, depression, diabetes, pain, high cholesterol and blood pressure, pregnancy, low back pain, and weight loss
- Dental coverage: Coverage for child dental, adult dental, both, or neither
- Metal levels: Bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans, and catastrophic coverage
- Cost to value: We compared physician copays, specialist copays, monthly premiums, and deductibles for bronze and silver plans across different age groups across two ZIP codes, representing the highest enrollment in ACA plans by state.
- Premium tax credit reduction: We researched and compared the percentage of plan premiums eligible for reduction by the premium tax credit.