Choosing Health Insurance 101

Trying to decide which health insurance policy to choose?

Healthcare websites can be confusing but now there’s an interactive tool to help you choose an insurance policy.[1]  It’s a quick and easy way to find out the cost of any healthcare plan for you or you or your family.

Check it out!

You will only need to provide four pieces of information: age, zip code, household size, and household income.  Once you do that, you’ll see a graph showing the estimated costs to you.  There are four to five different kinds of health insurance: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and catastrophic.  Each bar in the graph tells you how much you would pay for your health insurance every month (premium) and the most you would have to pay for covered services in a plan year (out-of-pocket maximum).

Note: Catastrophic insurance is the least expensive. But it is only for people who are willing to pay for the typical medical expenses when they go to the doctor and depend on insurance only for major medical expenses, such as going to the hospital. Wondering what would happen if you don’t pay for insurance? This tool can even show you how much having no coverage could cost you.

Health Insurance Plan Costs

This graph is an example of what a 45-year-old person would see if he or she has a family size of 4 people and an average annual income level of around $52,600 and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.[2] Of course, the graph will look different for each person based on their own income, location, and family size.

Unfortunately, if you live in a state with state-based Marketplace insurances, you will be sent to their own state insurance websites instead of getting your own personal chart.  Below is a list of those states:

California Colorado Connecticut District of Columbia Idaho
Kentucky Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota New York
Rhode Island Vermont Washington

This tool looks into all available health insurance options, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Qualified Health Plans, to calculate the lowest cost for each plan.  It even calculates all possible discounts for each income level.

Some states lack certain types of health insurance plans so this tool will only give information about the plans available for every zip code.  Also, each state has different rules about age limits for specific plans.  The catastrophic plan, for instance, will not usually accept anyone over 30 years of age.  

For Specific Questions, Contact a Healthcare Insurance Representative

If you prefer speaking to someone on the phone, call 1-800-318-2596.

But if you prefer speaking to someone face-to-face, visit to find local assistance.

Here are some useful links:

All articles are reviewed and approved by Dr. Diana Zuckerman and other senior staff.

  1. Developed by Social Interest Solutions, a nonprofit based in northern California.
  2. Based on the Census AC1