Health insurance with no deductible is one of the most comprehensive forms of medical coverage. It is available for individuals, families, businesses and self-employed persons that purchase their own coverage and want little or no out-of-pocket expenses coupled with high-quality benefits. Although not all major insurers are able to offer a zero deductible plan, many states have various options either on or off the Marketplace. By eliminating a deductible, benefits can be used quicker and thousands of dollars may be saved.
Mostly available through employer-group plans, there are also some private contracts (Platinum and Gold Exchange plans through Open Enrollment) that offer first-dollar coverage. You can request free quotes on all types of plans at the top of this page. Immediate benefits are usually paid when you buy coverage. There also may be a “stated amount” of dollars paid for certain claims on non-compliant policies. Often, you will need secondary coverage with these policies since there may be high coinsurance or co-payments. It is important, however, to always consider the plan maximum out-of-pocket expenses (MOOP).
The most common form of this type of coverage is an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plan. Instead of the typical amount on large claims (often ranging from $500 to $10,000) sometimes, there is simply no deductible that is required to be met. Coinsurance can vary between 10% and 50%. A PPO or EPO can also have a $0 deductible although they are not as common.
Thus, a $10,000 bill resulting from a covered accident or injury, could possibly cost the insured very little…perhaps less than $2,500. Each HMO is different and there are many state variations. Note: It is not unusual for a carrier to an HMO plan through the Marketplace, and a PPO plan off-Exchange or through a Group plan.
Although there may be “daily copays,” these are usually capped after 4-7 days. Maternity benefits are also included on all Marketplace HMO plans, although there may be a separate small copay or other out-of-pocket amount. Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Cigna and many of the Blue Cross companies offered these types of policies. Sometimes “low” deductible options are offered with amounts of $250 or $500 available. Zero-deductible plans are offered in many states, although maximum-out-of-pocket expenses may reach the allowed maximum of $8,700.
There are also non-HMO plans that will waive many costs. These PPO policies feature immediate benefits for large or small healthcare expenses, without having to meet an immediate copay or coinsurance. Most stated expenses are covered at 100% regardless of the number of claims submitted. However, with any plan, there still could be specific exclusions that may not be covered, such as cosmetic surgeries.
Since these types of policies can get a bit pricey, especially in some of the Northeastern states, considering a small deductible (vs. no deductible) instead, may substantially reduce the policy premium. For example, a $2,000 deductible vs. a $500 deductible could easily reduce the yearly cost of a family policy by as much as $2,000. So, if you were to submit several large claims per year (which is unlikely), you will still have more money in your pocket at the end of the year. And after many years, the difference could be dramatic.
New Marketplace Policies
Eliminating out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance, was very rare prior to the ACA legislation. Companies feared their customers would submit too many claims, with the insurer paying almost all of the claim. But that changed when federal tax subsidies, Open Enrollment, and Metal tier plans became household words. The $5,000 and $6,000 deductibles are still available but much lower options have become much easier to obtain.
Silver, Gold, and Platinum Exchange plans feature much lower out-of-pocket costs than Bronze and Catastrophic contracts. Often, a low-deductible option is available along with several policies that completely eliminate the major medical deductible. Although each state offers different policies, providers, and of course, prices, $0 deductible plans are offered in most states. However, maximum out-of pocket maximum expenses often reach the allowed 2022 policy maximum of $8,700. It is expected that the policy maximums will reach $9,000 by 2024. If a “public option” is approved by Congress, the deductible will also likely be very high.
$0 Deductible Plans Available To Persons Under Age 65
The Federal Marketplace (and private state exchanges) offer many plans with $0 or very low deductibles. The most popular and least expensive plans from several states are shown below:
Arizona – Bright Health Bronze $0 Medical Deductible, Oscar Bronze Elite $0 Ded Plan, Oscar Silver Classic $0 Ded Plan, and Ambetter Essential Care $0 Medical Deductible.
Florida – Florida Health Care Plans Gym Access IND Bronze HMO OA 1211, Oscar Bronze Elite $0 Ded Plan, and Florida Blue BlueSelect Bronze 2139.
Illinois – Bright Health Bronze $0 Medical Deductible, Ambetter Essential Care $0 Medical Deductible, Ambetter Balanced Care 28, Molina Constant Care Silver 7 250, and Molina Constant Care Silver 1 250.
Iowa – Oscar Bronze Elite $0 Ded Plan, Oscar Silver Elite $0 Ded Plan, and Oscar Gold Elite $0 Ded Plan.
Michigan – Ascension Personalized Care No Deductible Bronze, Ascension Personalized Care No Deductible Silver, Ambetter Essential Care $0 Medical Deductible, Molina Constant Care 7 250, and MyPriority Gold Copay.
North Carolina – Bright Health Bronze $0 Medical Deductible, Bright Health Silver $0 Medical Deductible, BCBS Local Silver $0 Deductible, and BCBS Blue Advantage Silver $0 Deductible.
Oregon – Kaiser OR Gold 0/20.
Texas – Bright Health Super Bronze 4, Oscar Bronze Elite $0 Ded, UnitedHealthcare Gold Value+, Baylor, Scott, And White Health Plan Prime Silver HMO 005, Amber Essential Care $0 Medical Deductible, BCBS Blue Advantage Plus Silver 605, FirstCare Prime Silver HMO 012, and FirstCare Elite Gold HMO 002.
Senior Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans With $0 Deductible And RX Benefits
Listed below are options with no deductible. MA plans should be compared with other Medigap options since benefits and network availability will vary.
Georgia – AARP Medicare Advantage Plus Plan 1, AARP Medicare Advantage Walgreens, Aetna Medicare Freedom Plan, Aetna Medicare Essential Plan, Allwell Medicare, Allwell Medicare Premier, Anthem MediBlue Plus, Cigna Preferred GA Medicare, Cigna Preferred Medicare, Cigna True Choice Medicare, Clear Spring Health Choice Plan, Clover Health Choice, Humana Care Extra, Humana Gold Plus, Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Basic, Sonder Health Plans, UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Choice Plan 1, WellCare Dividend, WellCare Endurance, and WellCare Premium.
Illinois – Aetna Better Health Premier Plan, Aetna Medicare Prime, Aetna Medicare Value, Ascension Complete AMITA Health Secure, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Basic, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Plus, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Premier Plus, Blue Medicare Advocate Health, Bright Advantage, Cigna Preferred Medicare, Cigna Premier Medicare, Clear Spring Health Essential, Humana Gold Plus, MoreCare For You, WellCare Absolute, WellCare Essential, WellCare Value, Zing Essential Wellness, and Zing Choice.
Oklahoma – AARP Medicare Advantage Choice, AARP Medicare Advantage Choice Plan 2, Advantage Choice Plus, Aetna Medicare Freedom Core Plan, Aetna Medicare Premier Plan, Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Basic, Cigna True Choice Medicare, Generations Classic, Humana Gold Plus, HumanaChoice, and Senior Health Plan Silver Plus.
Texas – AARP Medicare Advantage, AARP Medicare Advantage SecureHorizons Plan 1, Allwell Medicare, Amerivantage Classic, Amerivantage Classic Plus, Care N’ Care Choice, Care N’ Care Choice Plus, Care N’ Care Classic, Clover Health Choice, Clover Health Classic, Humana Gold Plus, Imperial Insurance Company Traditional, Imperial Insurance Value, Prominence Plus, WellCare Texas Plan Classic, WellCare Value,
Student Plans With Low Deductibles
For a student, rates are much less expensive. Assuming the same area of Ohio, a 21-year-old student with $18,000 of income, would only pay $74 per month (after the subsidy is applied) for the same Silver-Tier Molina policy with a $250 deductible. And Aetna offers a fairly similar plan for $92 although the deductible would increase to $1,000.
Depending on where you live and the school or University you attend, it may be possible to purchase a student-health plan with low out-of-pocket expenses at a reasonable cost. An inexpensive supplementary contract can help reduce unexpected accidental expenses. These types of contracts are often offered by the University to be used in conjunction with the primary coverage.
Fixed Benefit Policies – Warning
There is one particular type of health insurance we don’t endorse or recommend…unless you can’t qualify for any other type of medical insurance, you have been previously declined after submitting a short-term application, or you are either not eligible or missed Open Enrollment in your state. We are referring to a “Fixed-Benefit” policy, which is not offered by all companies. However, most of the carriers that offer this policy seem to be reputable and you do receive cash benefits for covered expenses.
Fixed Benefit medical plans are not always expensive. Often, the rate is less than $100 per month for a single person and less than $300 per month for an entire family. Of course, the older you are (especially if you are over age 55), the more expensive rates will become. For office visits, instead of a “copay”, often you received a “fixed” (of course!) payment in the range of $40-$75.
But usually there is a limit of 2-4 visits per year and it’s probable that the cost of the visit will be more. Sometimes it is difficult to find a doctor or specialist that accepts the carrier. The same may be true for hospitals.
Prescription benefits are either just discounted or have a maximum payout per year…perhaps $500 to $1,000. These are far lower benefits than you would enjoy under most other standard contracts. And it is very important to understand exclusions on these types of policies, because they are plentiful.
Fixed Benefit plans also limit inpatient and outpatient surgery coverage and related expenses. More than likely, if you use these benefits, you won’t have enough coverage. Emergency room and Urgent care benefits are often covered, but with very low amounts. The same applies to long hospital confinements which could result in large bills that are not covered. Depending on the severity of the confinement, it would not be unusual to owe tens of thousands of dollars in uncovered medical bills.
While choices like this have many gaps and limitations, if all other alternatives have been exhausted, the no-deductible health insurance plan should be considered. Missing Open Enrollment may force you to view these types of options. However, if you choose to purchase a policy, benefits will not come close to matching a standard Exchange contract.
Impact Of Legislative Changes On The Deductible
One important change is the mandated provisions and essential health benefits that became a requirement on most policies beginning in 2014. At that time, the “zero” or “no” deductible policies were mostly offered on “Gold” and “Platinum” options that were earlier discussed. That situation has not changed, although there are far fewer policies that now waive a deductible. However, there are many $250, $300, and $500 deductible options.
Each state has some variances, but the “Platinum” plan always offers the richest coverage. For instance, in California, several Platinum plans feature no deductible and a $2o copay for primary care physician office visits and $40 for specialists. But they are also the most expensive plans offered (Molina Healthcare 90 HMO, Health Net Platinum 90, and LA Care 90 HMO).The maximum out-of-pocket cost on these three policies is $4,000.
In Pennsylvania, there are many plans without a deductible including the UnitedHealthcare Gold Compass 0-1, UPMC Advantage Silver $0/$50, Keystone HMO Platinum, Independence Blue Cross Platinum Personal Choice (and Complete), and Keystone Gold. However, depending on the plan, you still may pay up to $6,850 in coinsurance costs.
Many other states only offer policies without a deductible, although that does not mean there are no out-of-pocket expenses. A “No Deductible” plan provides exceptional first-dollar coverage. But you must be aware of what comes next. Sometimes, even if you have major health problems, a higher deductible and lower premium combination may save you money.
For Marketplace coverage, the maximum out-of-pocket cost limit has increased to $8,550 and fewer plans are available with no deductible or extremely low MOP (maximum out-of-pocket expenses). Selecting a Silver-tier policy can often result in finding the “sweet spot” for price and out-of-pocket cost.
2021 rates have decreased in many states. UnitedHealthcare has also re-entered the Marketplace in several states.