As of this writing, health insurance providers in the United States are regulated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. This federal statute is colloquially nicknamed Obamacare.

The intention of this act was to regulate the health insurance industry, thereby providing more Americans with insurance and improving the quality of healthcare as a whole. Under the ACA, most Americans are mandated to have medical insurance, and can purchase it through the ACA-created health insurance exchange, a broker or online aggregator, or directly from the health insurance company. 

All plans that private companies offer on the ACA exchanges must be available off the exchange at the same price. Depending on your income and size of your family, however, you might be eligible for certain cost-assistance subsidies on the official ACA exchange that you would not get by going straight through a provider. That said, private companies can, and often do, offer a wide variety of plans themselves that are NOT available on the ACA exchange.

If you want access to a larger array of plan options, including different deductible/out of pocket combinations not offered by the federal marketplace, we recommend at least taking a look off exchange. Depending on the state in which you live, sometimes the best coverage is only available off exchange. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the cheapest coverage is also available off exchange. The only way to be sure is to go through the process of comparing on-exchange policies to off. Online brokers and comparison sites offer access to the widest array of plans from off exchange private companies.

Top 10 Companies

Our Partner
9.7 / 10
  • Customizable Short-Term Health Plans for Gaps in Coverage
  • Eligible expenses include dental services, hospital services, and outpatient services
  • Visit any doctor in the Choice Plus network; no referral and no primary care physician (PCP) required
  • Coverage terms range from 30 days to less than 3 months
  • Customize your plan by selecting term, maximum lifetime benefit, out-of-pocket maximum, deductible, and coinsurance.
Our Partner
9.7 / 10
  • Get Instant Health Insurance Quotes at
  • Explore Health Coverage Options by Submitting Your Zip Code
  • Licensed insurance Agents Available In All 50 States
  • Compare Quotes From The Leading Healthcare Providers
  • Talk To Healthcare Experts Through Their Toll-Free Telephone
Our Partner
9.7 / 10
  • Coverage terms range from 30 days to just under 3 months
  • Enroll in short-term insurance whenever you want and cancel whenever you want
  • No cancellation penalties
  • Plans start at $30.70 a month (subject to limitations)
Our Partner
9.7 / 10
  • Plans starting at $104 per month
  • Over 180 carriers to choose from
  • Interim Coverage for $0.59 a day
  • A- BBB Accredited
  • Featured on CNN, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Kiplinger’s
  • Partnered with health insurance providers including Anthem, Kaiser Permanente, and Cigna
9.6 / 10
  • Available in all 50 states
  • QHPs and off-marketplace coverage
  • Medicare, Life Insurance, Dental
  • 10,000 licensed insurance benefits advisors
  • Family and group plans
9.6 / 10
  • Plans for seniors, young adults, individuals, and families
  • Get free quotes throughone simple online form
  • Be connected with leading health insurers nationwide
  • Shop on your own schedule
  • Compare options and prices
9.6 / 10
  • Blue365 Healthy Discounts
  • Doctor and Hospital Finder
  • Accepted by 90% of doctors and specialists
  • Benefits Accessibility
  • Preventive Care Coverage
9.6 / 10
  • Claim Assistance
  • Home Delivery Pharmacy
  • Health Assistant Online Coaching
  • Highly trained, professional coaches
  • Personalized Services
Our Partner
9.6 / 10
  • Online Assessment
  • Compare health insurance plans
  • Claim Assistance
  • Online Doctor Consultation
  • Insurance expert assistance 
  • Online Hospital Finder
9.5 / 10
  • Find a doctor online
  • Multiple health insurance plans offered
  • Electronic health record
  • Appointment scheduler
  • 24/7 advice nurses  
  • Live chat
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How We Compare Health Insurance




Everyone can purchase health insurance, either through the ACA Marketplace or through a private company, from November 1 to January 31. You can purchase health insurance outside of this window only if you are experiencing a “qualifying life event,” which triggers a special enrollment period. Some qualifying life events include: Loss of coverage, birth of a child, marriage or divorce. Your only other option outside of a qualifying life event is to purchase a short-term plan. Though short-term plans are comparably cheap, they are not for routine care, only emergencies. They also are subject various time restrictions depending on when you enroll.


This is your monthly payment for health insurance. Either paid totally by you, or partially by you in the case you are on an employers plan and they are kicking in a percentage. It is not part of your out of pocket expense. Higher monthly premiums translate to lower out of pocket expenses.


This is how much you are responsible for paying when you actually receive care. If you are purchasing insurance through a marketplace, you can adjust the ratio of monthly premiums to out of pocket expenses, i.e. higher monthly premiums translates to lower expenses at the location you are receiving care, and vice versa. If you are getting health insurance through your employer, you may be restricted to the premium/out of pocket cost ratio they choose.

This ratio is expressed as 4 different plans often called “metal tiers,” bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.


This is how much you have to pay yearly for medical care before your insurance company takes over. If you have a $1,000 deductible and you’re facing a $12,000 bill because of some major accident, your insurance company will cover $11,000. Preventative care and routine doctor visits are not included in this though. Usually, for these types of services you pay a copayment and the insurance company takes care of the rest of the bill.  


This is your share of the doctor you will pay at the visit. Copays genuine fluctuate depending on what kind of doctor you are seeing, or what kind of treatment you are receiving. Specialists will most of the time have a higher copay than your family doctor. Some plans have no copay at all. Choosing a higher premium generally results in a lower copayment.


This is the most you are going to liable for in one year regardless of how much medical attention you receive. After you hit this limit the insurance company will have to pick up 100% of the costs going forward. Unless they need a lot of expensive treatment, most people will never hit this limit. Plans with higher premiums (gold, platinum) have lower out of pocket limits.


The maximum the company will pay out over the insured’s lifetime. The ACA has currently done away with lifetime benefits on essential services.

Prescriptions in some cases are not subject to a deductible as well. Depending on your plan tier and company policies, prescriptions can just be a straight copayment (less for generic, more for brand name), can be included in your overall deductible, or have their own deductible dollar amount.

If you know you have an expensive medical condition, it makes the most sense to select a Gold or Platinum plan, this will mean a high premium but low out of pocket (OOP) expense for frequent medical procedures and services. If you are general in good health, it’s probably a good idea to go for the lower premium plans with high deductibles.

However, since you can’t predict a catastrophe or accident, we recommend that you try to save as much as you can of the high deductible and put it aside. 

Network Size


When shopping for health insurance, you need to take a given company’s network size and facilities given your physical location into account. Networks consist of doctors, hospitals, laboratories, imaging centers, and pharmacies all contracted with a specific insurance company to provide services at a specific price. Costs are lower because preferred providers work at negotiated rates. It is also important to choose a health insurance provider with preferred providers in your area.

To determine network size we looked at a given company’s area of operation, and divided the total number of overall providers in the area by the company’s own network providers in said area.

X-Large= More than 60%
Very Small=Less than 10%

As seeing out-of-network doctors and specialists can get quite expensive, you are going to want the plan most complete network possible in your area. Sometimes, this may mean changing doctors if your current doctor is in a small or very small network.

Financial Reputation


To determine a given company’s financial reputation we look at the following factors:

Financial Ratings from Moody's, Fitch, AM Best and S&P
Years of Operation
Market Share

You are going to want to go with a health insurance provider that has stability, history, and financial reputation. By its very definition, health insurance must work when you need it most. Keep in mind though that a lot of new-sounding companies can actually be offshoots or a rebranding of more established, older company that is actually doing the underwriting.   

Customer Experience


To determine a company’s overall customer satisfaction we look at the following factors:

NCQA Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2016
JD Power Health Plan Member Satisfaction Survey 2016 2016 Survey
NAIC Complaint Ratios
Consumers Advocate Reviews

All companies have negative reviews online. Health insurance, like a lot of the industries we cover, is not exactly the kind of subject people gush over review-wise when they are satisfied. People expect it to work. But use your judgment. If a given company scores on the low side with the above surveys and ratings, AND has a disproportionate number of bad reviews...where there's smoke there's usually fire. 



All health plans in the United States are mandated to provide these essential health benefits:

  • Outpatient Care
  • Emergency Services
  • Hospitalization, Surgery
  • Pregnancy, Maternity, Newborn Care
  • Psychotherapy, Substance Abuse Services
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Rehabilitative Services
  • Labs
  • Preventative/Wellness Services
  • Full Pediatric Services

EXTRA COVERAGE ITEMS – Supplemental Coverage

  • Adult Dental
  • Adult Vision
  • Routine Foot Care
  • Medical Management (weight, diabetes)
  • Pain Management (chronic back pain, neuropathic pain)
  • Long Term Care
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Cosmetic Procedures
  • Weight Loss Surgery
  • Infertility Treatments
  • Private Nursing

Since all plans currently must cover the ten essential benefits, don't pay extra for additional coverage unless it's something you really need. If you swear by your monthly acupuncture appointment, then make sure you find a specialized plan with a strong alternative medicine component. 

What's important to know about Health Insurance?

What are my options if I don’t get health insurance through my employer?

You can purchase health insurance through the government-run online exchange. This may qualify you for certain subsidies or discounts depending on your income and family size. You can also get identical plans from the directly from the providers themselves, as well as plan options not available on the government site. A third option is online brokers that allow you to compare policies from multiple insurance providers in order to get the widest array of premium/deductible options.

I’m perfectly healthy, what type of plan should I choose?

It makes the most sense to purchase a plan that has a lower payment (premium) and high deductible. This means you’re not going to get hit too hard in the bank account on a monthly basis. However, since accidents cannot be predicted, we recommend you be cognizant of your deductible and try your best to plan accordingly to pay it should something happen.