Explore RI Health Insurance Plans: Secure Your Health

Finding the right health insurance plan can be overwhelming. There are so many options and factors to consider.


As a Rhode Island resident looking to explore your health insurance options, here are some of the key questions you may have:

  • What are the different types of health insurance plans available in Rhode Island?
  • How do I choose between an HMO, PPO, or POS plan?
  • What is the HealthSource RI marketplace and how does it work?
  • What health insurance options are available if I have a pre-existing condition?
  • How can I estimate my total yearly costs for a plan?
  • What financial assistance programs are available to help pay for coverage?
  • What benefits are considered “essential health benefits” that must be covered?
  • How do deductibles, copays, and maximum out-of-pocket costs work?
  • What do I need to know about prescription drug coverage?
  • How do I enroll in a plan or change my current coverage?

This introduction covers the key topics we’ll explore in detail below.

With some research and guidance, you can find the RI health insurance plan that fits your needs and budget.

explore ri health insurance plans

What are the different types of health insurance plans available in Rhode Island?

There are several common types of health insurance plans offered by insurers in Rhode Island:

  • HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) – Requires you to select a primary care physician (PCP) to coordinate all care and referrals. Out-of-network care is typically not covered except emergencies. Generally lower premiums but less flexibility.
  • PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) – Gives you more flexibility to see in-network or out-of-network providers without a referral. Out-of-network care has higher costs. Premiums tend to be higher than HMOs.
  • POS (Point of Service) – Combines features of HMO and PPO plans. You select a PCP to coordinate in-network care and referrals are required for specialist visits. Out-of-network care is partially covered but costs more.
  • Catastrophic – Basic, high-deductible plans that protect you from worst-case medical scenarios. Lower premiums but very high deductibles. Useful if you’re young and healthy.
  • EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization) – A managed care plan that only covers in-network providers except emergencies. May offer lower out-of-pocket costs than PPOs.

How do I choose between an HMO, PPO, or POS plan?

Here are some key factors to help choose between HMO, PPO, and POS plans:

  • Flexibility in choosing doctors – PPOs offer the most flexibility followed by POS plans. HMOs require you to stay in-network except for emergencies.
  • Costs – HMOs tend to have lower premiums but less out-of-network coverage. PPOs have higher premiums but lower costs when seeing out-of-network doctors. POS plans are in the middle.
  • Access to specialists – HMOs and POS plans require referrals to see specialists. PPOs allow you to self-refer to any in-network specialist.
  • Prescription drug coverage – PPOs tend to offer better prescription benefits compared to HMOs.
  • Your current doctors – Check if your providers are in-network for the plan you’re considering. HMOs have the smallest networks.

Overall, PPOs offer the most flexibility while HMOs have lower premiums. Choose based on your budget, health needs, and preferences.

What is the HealthSource RI marketplace and how does it work?

HealthSource RI is Rhode Island’s health insurance marketplace and exchange established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Here’s how it works:

  • Provides a platform to compare and purchase ACA-compliant health plans from insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield RI, Neighborhood Health Plan of RI, and Tufts Health Plan.
  • Offers different “metal tier” plans – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Higher tiers have higher premiums but lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
  • Determines eligibility for premium tax credits and subsidies to help reduce monthly costs for plans bought via the exchange.
  • Has an open enrollment period each year for RI residents to purchase coverage or change plans.
  • Allows small businesses (under 50 employees) to shop for employee health plans.
  • Features tools to estimate costs and find in-network providers based on plan selection.

Using HealthSource RI simplifies comparing plans and provides access to financial assistance for qualifying enrollees.

What health insurance options are available if I have a pre-existing condition?

If you have a pre-existing health condition, some options for obtaining health insurance coverage in Rhode Island include:

  • HealthSource RI – This marketplace cannot deny coverage or charge more due to pre-existing conditions. You can see if you qualify for tax credits and subsidies as well.
  • Medicaid – RI’s Medicaid program provides coverage options for low-income adults and children regardless of medical history. Eligibility is based on income.
  • COBRA – Gives you the option to temporarily extend an employer plan after leaving a job. You pay full premiums.
  • Short Term Insurance – Temporary 3-12 month plans that provide limited benefits but do not exclude pre-existing conditions.
  • Group or Family Plans – Being part of a group plan through an employer, spouse, or family limits exclusions based on health status.

Make sure to understand exclusions and limitations when choosing a plan with pre-existing conditions.

HealthSource RI provides comprehensive coverage regardless of your history.

How can I estimate my total yearly costs for a plan?

There are a few steps to estimate your total yearly expenses for a health insurance plan:

  • Review the monthly or yearly premium cost. This is what you pay for coverage.
  • Look at the deductible – the amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance starts sharing costs.
  • Understand co-insurance percentages you pay for care after meeting the deductible. This is often 20%.
  • Check the maximum out-of-pocket limit which caps your total yearly costs.
  • Estimate your utilization – how often you see a doctor, have tests, use prescriptions. This helps estimate your costs.
  • Use a cost calculator tool like on to input your specifics and get an accurate estimate.
  • Consider other costs like dental, vision, life insurance premiums if bundled with health plan.

Getting quotes for the specific health plans you are considering can provide the most accurate yearly cost estimate based on your expected utilization.

What financial assistance programs are available to help pay for coverage?

Rhode Islanders have access to various financial assistance programs to help pay for health insurance:

  • Premium tax credits – Based on income, reduces monthly premium costs for plans from HealthSource RI.
  • Cost-sharing reductions – For those under 250% of poverty level to lower out-of-pocket costs on Silver plans.
  • Medicaid – Free or low-cost coverage for qualifying low-income RI residents.
  • CHIP – Covers children up to age 19 in families who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Based on income.
  • COBRA Subsidy – Temporary premium assistance due to job loss for employer health plans.
  • Direct Primary Care – Some primary care clinics offer lower-cost access with monthly fees.
  • Hospital charity programs – If uninsured, you may qualify for discounted or free care from hospitals.

Reach out to HealthSource RI or talk to a navigator to understand eligibility and apply for subsidies, tax credits, Medicaid, or other assistance programs.

What benefits are considered “essential health benefits” that must be covered?

Per the Affordable Care Act, individual and small group health plans must cover these 10 essential health benefit (EHB) categories:

  • Ambulatory services (outpatient)
  • Emergency care
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative services (physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy)
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive care and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services including vision and dental care

All marketplace health plans must offer these essential benefits without annual or lifetime dollar limits. Some employer plans only need to cover certain categories.

How do deductibles, copays, and maximum out-of-pocket costs work?

  • Deductibles – Amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. Preventive care is often exempt. Plans have per person and per family deductibles.
  • Copays – Fixed amount you pay for a health service, like $20 for a doctor visit or $10 for a generic prescription. Paid at time of care.
  • Coinsurance – Percent of costs you pay after meeting deductible, often 20%. So you cover 20% of an MRI, lab work, hospital stay, etc.
  • Out-of-pocket max – Total max you’d pay in a year through deductibles, copays and coinsurance. After hitting this cap, insurance covers 100%.
  • Prescription tiers – Formularies split drugs into tiers (generic, preferred, non-preferred) with different copay costs.

Knowing how these costs work allows you to estimate your total expenses and choose a plan matching your utilization needs and budget.

What do I need to know about prescription drug coverage?

Key things to understand about prescription coverage:

  • Plans group medications into tiers – generic, preferred brand, non-preferred. Different copays for each tier.
  • Check the plan’s drug formulary to see if your specific medications are covered. Also look for exclusions.
  • Plans often have deductibles that must be met before coverage kicks in, especially for higher tiers.
  • Look at copay or coinsurance costs for each tier – how much you’ll pay at the pharmacy counter.
  • See if the plan requires prior authorization or step therapy for any medications. This can delay getting certain drugs.
  • Ask about mail order options for maintaining a 90 day supply of maintenance medications.
  • See if the plan has in-network preferred pharmacies to save costs.

Understanding the drug formulary and cost structure allows you to estimate your total medication costs on a plan.

How do I enroll in a plan or change my current coverage?

Here are some tips for enrolling in a new health insurance plan or changing your current coverage:

  • During open enrollment – Make changes or enroll in a marketplace plan or employer coverage during specified period each year.
  • Special enrollment period – Triggered by qualifying events like losing your job or having a baby. Gives you 60 days to act.
  • Directly on HealthSource RI – Shop and enroll in plans on RI’s health insurance marketplace during open periods.
  • Through insurer – Contact the insurance company directly to enroll if you are not using the marketplace.
  • With employer – Sign up for or change employer group health plans during open period or qualifying event.
  • With broker – Licensed brokers can advise on plan options and handle enrollment details.
  • Coverage start – New plan years start January 1st. There can be delays when switching so account for gap in care.

Carefully review new options and notify your current insurer before cancelling a plan. Learn the enrollment and plan change rules to avoid penalties or gaps in coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Rhode Island offers HMO, PPO, POS and catastrophic health insurance plans with varying costs and flexibility.
  • HealthSource RI is the state’s ACA marketplace for comparing and purchasing subsidized coverage.
  • All plans on the marketplace must provide essential health benefits and cover pre-existing conditions.
  • Understand deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums when estimating total costs.
  • Check a plan’s prescription drug formulary and tier structure to assess medication costs.
  • Use open enrollment periods or special qualifying events to enroll in or change health plans.


  • Research plan types, benefits, and estimated costs
  • Check if your preferred doctors participate
  • See if you qualify for financial assistance
  • Learn the marketplace enrollment process
  • Select a plan matching your health needs and budget

With some diligent research, Rhode Islanders can find an affordable health insurance plan that provides suitable coverage and protection. Reach out for help from navigators or licensed brokers if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions RI Health Insurance Plans

What is the cheapest health insurance plan in Rhode Island?

The cheapest health plans are typically Bronze plans available through HealthSource RI, Rhode Island’s health insurance marketplace. Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums starting around $200/month for an individual, but have higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs when you receive care. Catastrophic plans available to those under 30 are also a very affordable option.

When is open enrollment for Rhode Island health plans?
Open enrollment is November 1st to January 31st each year. During this period, you can enroll in a new health plan or make changes to your existing coverage either through HealthSource RI or directly with insurers.

How long can I go without health insurance in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island residents are required to maintain minimum essential coverage under the ACA’s individual mandate. Going without coverage could make you subject to tax penalties. There are certain qualifying exemptions such as financial hardship, religious beliefs, or Native American status. Medicaid provides year-round enrollment for those eligible.

What is the best health insurance company in Rhode Island?
Some of the top health insurance providers in Rhode Island include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, UnitedHealthcare, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, and Tufts Health Plan. Each offers plans through HealthSource RI and directly. There is no one “best” insurer for everyone. Compare plans carefully based on your budget, health status, doctor networks, prescription needs and other personal factors.

Does Rhode Island offer short term health insurance plans?
Yes, Rhode Island allows short term health plans that provide temporary coverage for up to 364 days. These plans come with more benefit limitations and exclusions compared to ACA-compliant plans. They can, however, be a lower cost option for healthy individuals needing stopgap coverage.


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