When you work for yourself, it is crucial to have affordable options and sufficient coverage. If you are a freelancer, consultant, or involved in gig work, the most cost-effective plans can typically be found on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or your state’s health exchange. However, due to the numerous providers and plans available, choosing the appropriate one can pose a challenge.

In order to determine the top health insurance companies suitable for individuals who are self-employed, we assessed 14 major health insurance companies using 48 different criteria. These criteria were distributed among various categories including tax incentives, cost-effectiveness (which involved evaluating copays, monthly premiums, and deductibles), customer satisfaction ratings (such as NCQA and healthcare.gov star ratings), health management programs, dental coverage, plan options (such as HMO, PPO, etc.), ACA metal levels offered, and state coverage availability.

Best Health Insurance Companies for the Self-Employed of 2023



  • Best overall pricing of any health insurance provider we reviewed
  • Convenient health app for refills, rewards, and more
  • $0 virtual care with most plans
  • ACA plans available in 21 states

Cons remain an inherent part of any decision-making process

  • Low third-party customer service ratings

The Reason for Our Selection

Oscar is the leading provider for health insurance for self-employed individuals, offering lower average premiums and deductibles compared to other companies. They have a reliable app that enables you to easily locate care, communicate with your care team, request prescription refills, consult with virtual healthcare providers, keep track of your deductible, and even earn rewards for meeting daily step goals, with a maximum potential reward of $75 per year. Additionally, most plans by Oscar have no copayments for virtual care. Oscar provides a diverse range of plan options and a comprehensive selection of medical management programs.

However, Oscar’s plans have some concerns regarding their quality. The company’s rating on Healthcare.gov, which assesses member experience, medical care, and plan administration, was only 2 stars. Moreover, Oscar’s National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rating for member experience was 2.75 out of 5 stars, which is lower compared to several rivals.



  • Offers plans eligible for the maximum premium tax credit
  • Offers no- or low-cost MinuteClinic services
  • 24/7 virtual care available for as low as $0

Cons refer to the negative aspects or drawbacks of something.

  • Does not offer dental coverage
  • Plan costs are higher than average
  • ACA plans not available nationwide

The Reason for Our Choice

Aetna’s plans are eligible for the maximum premium reduction offered by the premium tax credit as they adhere to the essential health benefits (EHBs) mandated by the ACA. For instance, if you purchase a Silver plan from Aetna in 2023 and earn less than 150% of the FPL, your required contribution may be reduced to $0.

Aetna’s plans also provide busy contractors with the advantage of no- or low-cost virtual care and MinuteClinic services. These services are offered at your local MinuteClinic, which has convenient hours and allows you to book appointments online for various healthcare needs. Additionally, you might have the chance to obtain and collect a prescription on-site.

Aetna offers HMO, PPO, and EPO plans, along with various medical management programs for different conditions. The company has an above-average NCQA rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars and has also received an A (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best, demonstrating its outstanding claim payment capability. However, individuals who do not meet the criteria for the premium tax credit might not consider Aetna’s plans as the most cost-effective option, as their premiums and deductibles may exceed those of other competitors (costs may differ by location).

Blue Cross Blue Shield


  • Offers the best value Gold plans of the insurers reviewed
  • Low premiums on Bronze plans
  • Child and adult dental coverage available
  • 3.7-star average NCQA rating

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  • Poor J.D. Power ratings in some regions

The Reason for Our Choice

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the most suitable choice for individuals requiring comprehensive healthcare. Among all the insurers we assessed, BCBS had the most affordable Gold plans in terms of deductibles (though not premiums). Additionally, their Bronze plans have low premiums but high deductibles.

Their plans consistently receive high ratings, solidifying their reputation. BCBS is also our top-rated provider for the best health insurance companies. In addition to conventional plans, BCBS also offers short-term coverage and global health insurance for contractors and individuals traveling abroad.

Member experience in the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) varies depending on the region due to its affiliation with multiple companies. The recent J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study demonstrates that BCBS is highly regarded in the Illinois and Indiana region, as it emerges as the top-rated carrier. However, in California, it is ranked as the least preferred option.

Moreover, some BCBS organizations extend additional benefits, such as health and wellness discounts or $0 virtual care, while others do not. Therefore, it is essential to conduct thorough research on the specific Blue Cross Blue Shield organization operating in your state before making a decision to enroll.

Molina Healthcare

Advantages or Positive Aspects

  • Best pricing for bronze and silver plans
  • Most plans include $0 virtual care

Cons, also known as disadvantages or drawbacks, refer to the negative aspects or factors that should be taken into account.

  • Poor third-party ratings
  • Doesn’t offer dental coverage

The Reason behind Our Choice

Molina Bronze and Silver plans are the most cost-effective options for independent contractors seeking affordable coverage. Compared to other major insurers and numerous regional ones, these plans offer the lowest average premiums and deductibles. Molina provides ACA plans in 14 states, with most states also granting you access to 24/7 telehealth visits via Teladoc without any additional charges. Additionally, Molina offers a user-friendly mobile application that enables you to access your medical records, communicate with a nurse, and more.

While Molina offers the most affordable plans, it received the lowest ratings among the carriers we evaluated. For instance, Molina has an average NCQA rating of 2 stars and a 2-star rating on Healthcare.gov. Additionally, it offers the fewest health management programs compared to other insurance providers, and dental coverage is not included.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Health Insurance Marketplace – what is it?

Health insurance plans can be compared and enrolled in through the Health Insurance Marketplace, a service provided by the federal government. To determine eligibility for Medicaid or premium tax credits, individuals can utilize the Marketplace. It is important to note that numerous states have their own marketplace, such as California, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, New Mexico, Idaho, and Kentucky. By entering your ZIP code at Healthcare.gov, you can discover the appropriate marketplace to utilize.

What is the cost of health insurance?

Several factors determine your health insurance premium, such as your age, location, smoking habit, chosen metal level, enrollment for yourself or family, and eligibility for the premium tax credit. It is crucial to seek affordable health insurance coverage if you do not qualify for the credit. For those eligible, premium tax credits may reduce your premium to $0.

  • Your age: The older you are, the more you’ll generally pay for health insurance. 
  • Your location: Local regulations, competition, and cost of living all affect premiums in your area. 
  • Tobacco use: Smokers may pay up to 50% more for health insurance. 
  • Metal level: Bronze and Silver plans have cheaper premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs, while Gold and Platinum plans have higher premiums and lower costs when you need care. For example, the lowest Bronze premium quote we received in Florida was $282 for a 25-year-old individual, while the lowest Gold premium was $381 (both full-cost plans without tax credits).
  • Individual or family: You’ll pay more for family enrollment than you would for an individual plan. 
  • Eligibility for premium tax credit: Depending on your income, location, and the plan you choose, you could have a $0 premium after the premium tax credit is applied.

Can you explain what an HSA is?

By saving money in a health savings account, you can set aside funds that can be used for eligible healthcare expenses. The deposited money in an HSA is tax-free, however, it cannot be utilized towards paying insurance premiums. In order to establish an HSA, you are required to have a high-deductible health plan with a minimum deductible of $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family.

Could you please explain the meaning and purpose of the Premium Tax Credit?

If you sign up for a Marketplace plan, you may be eligible for a premium tax credit determined by your income, which assists in decreasing the amount you pay for premiums based on a flexible scale. You meet the requirements if your earnings fall within 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

In 2023, there is a possibility of qualifying for the tax credit even if your income surpasses that threshold. You have the option to apply some or all of the tax credit in advance to assist in covering the cost of your premiums.

What options are available for businesses seeking assistance?

At the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace, small businesses can receive assistance in offering health coverage to their employees.

Employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), including nonprofit organizations, are eligible to apply for SHOP coverage whenever they desire as there are no limited enrollment periods. Opting for a SHOP Marketplace plan is typically the sole method to avail of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

What is the process for registering for SHOP plans?

You have the option to enroll in SHOP health or dental plans by collaborating with a registered insurance agent or broker. Alternatively, you can choose to work directly with your insurance company.

It is no longer possible to make a selection, submit an application, register, or oversee coverage through healthcare.gov.

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