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Your personal guide to navigating through health care reform.


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low cost health insurance
OnlineNavigator insurance enrollment supportNeed help?

We make it easy to get friendly, personal and help with health care reform questions with two fast and free support options:

Online support:
OnlineNavigator
is an independent adviser service offering free online support about any health reform issue. OnlineNavigator is not acting as agent for any qualified health insurance marketplace and is not affiliated with any federal or state programs. This service is available online 24/7 through email and social media sites usually with same day response. See the web site for details on privacy policy and terms of service.

Telephone support:
Live sales agent support is available during business hours at (800) 609-0683.

Most Liberal Eligibility

Health plans for diabetics - a listing of the health plan options and other resources
Value 24 Hour Accident - up to $10,000 of supplemental health insurance coverage for emergency treatment of injuries at a cost of about $2 per day. Can be used as a stand-alone coverage or added to other insurance.

Most Affordable

Secure Lite STM - the lowest priced major medical insurance for 1 to 12 months
Secure Saver STM - $2 million maximum coverage for 1-12 months at an ultra-low rate

Long Term Major Medical

Members Health Insurance Exchange allows you to price and choose from among many of the nations leading major medical health insurance options from a wide range of carriers. Personal help is available through OnlineNavigator to help with your selection.

Dental Insurance

Core Dental Insurance - preventive, basic, and major dental expenses with the dentist of your choice. Shortest waiting period.
Secure DentalOne - one lifetime deductible of $100 and then up to $1,250 per year coverage
Dental, Vision and Hearing Insurance - no deductible option, use any dentist, ophthalmologist, optometrist, physician or audiologist, no networks!

Online Life Insurance

Smart Term Life Insurance - affordable term life insurance up to $350,000 issued same day with a direct online application. No exam, agent appointment or telephone verification required.
International Term Life - up to $2 million coverage issued by Lloyds online specifically for those who spend time outside of the US

North Carolina affordable health insurance exchange and supplemental coverage

Prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina had 23 commercial health insurance companies that offered individual major medical insurance and 27 small group health insurance plans as well as the state-sponsored “Inclusive Health”, the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool health plan for residents who have been declined for commercial health insurance. These standard health insurance plans may not be affordable to all residents.

Since the passage of federal health insurance reform law, individuals and small businesses (with less than 50 employees) in North Carolina can now purchase health insurance through the federal heath insurance clearinghouse or through a number of privately operated insurance exchanges. The state government is likely to expand its own insurance exchange system in cooperation with either the federal or private systems within the next few years. Non-insurance options, like Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) can be added as effective cost-control tools; ask your adviser for more information. This Web page lists some of the most popular low cost commercial health insurance plans and related benefits. Freedom Benefits offers personal assistance with any insurance exchange or health reform issue through www.OnlineNavigator.org . Please note that while many of these choices could be included in more than one of the suggested usage categories, each plan is listed only once for the sake of brevity. Your enrollment adviser is available to discuss suitability of any plan for your specific situation.

Beginning in 2014, North Carolina will run an online insurance exchange for individuals and businesses in partnership with the federal government. That exchange will focus on a specific type of insurance defined by federal law.

The state insurance exchange is expected to be online by October 2013 with coverage starting January 2014, so individuals without insurance should make arrangements for temporary coverage until then. Covered health benefits under insurance purchased through the exchange in 2014 will be different than those offered though any 2013 health plans. The insurance plan that sets the benchmark for qualified coverage through the exchange is listed here and a list of state-mandated benefits can be found here.

Commercial insurance exchanges may also list less expensive insurance without the essential health benefits. Members Health Insurance Exchange handles pricing and direct online enrollment for many of the state's most popular commercial major medical insurance plans for individuals and families.

low cost health insurance

North Carolina insurance & benefit news

North Carolina had the 4th highest health insurance costs of all states in 2008 with an average family premium of $13,504 per year. (The average annual premium for a U.S. family covered under an employer-sponsored health plan in 2008 was $12,298 according to The Commonwealth Fund report. The overall quality of health care ranked 41st out of the 51 states (including DC).
The state has the 23rd highest small business health insurance costs in the U.S. according to a 2010 Department of Health and Human Services report with an average premium of $965 per month for family coverage.
North Carolina offers a state tax credit to help individuals afford the cost of the state's high risk health pool insurance.

Short Term Insurance

Markel Smart STM - popular and affordable short term major medical insurance with fast online approval
Secure STM - along with its 12 month and 36 month options, this may be the highest quality short term coverage

Intermediate Term

Inbound Immigrant - up to five years of liberal health insurance coverage after immigration including maternity coverage, emergency and other essential benefits

Supplemental Insurance

Consumers Direct Accident Medical - Protection UpgradeSM supplemental coverage for as little as $20 per month.
Smart Accident Insurance - supplemental coverage for emergency treatment of accidents and injuries for as little as $20 per month. Can be used as a stand-alone accident plan or to increase other insurance benefits.


low cost health insurance

North Carolina insurance law and regulation

The North Carolina Department of Insurance Web site contains links to the complete text of the state's insurance laws and regulations. The Web site has not yet developed resources to help individuals find commercial low cost health plans like mini-med or core coverage, specific illness policies, supplemental insurance and basic health insurance.
The state insurance department can be reached by telephone at (800) 546-5664 or by mail at 430 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh NC 27603. The state children's health insurance plan (CHIP) Web site is North Carolina Health Choice for Children (NCHC).

Small business plans

Freedom Benefits offers professional help with setup of self-administered Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA), Premium Reimbursement Plans, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and insurance at a low price than any small business can afford.

Non-insurance Discount Plans

Careington PPO Discount Plans - the nation's leading network PPO discount provider allows a no-risk trial of any discount plan for only a $20 processing fee
Drug Card America - a free prescription drug card that an be used nationwide
Essential Dental Solutions - simple, inexpensive, no waiting period, up to $500 treatment per year
Rx Pay Card - $10, $20, or $30 payments for hundreds of popular prescriptions.

See International Coverage and Travel Insurance Listings

North Carolina Insurance News

2/11/2014 Professional support for any health care reform issue is available free of charge through an arrangement with OnlineNavigator. All online inquiries are handled personally by Tony Novak, CPA. Online support is available through a number of popular social media channels including Facebook and Google+ as well as e-mail. Telephone support for insurance enrollment is available through Members Insurance Exchange at (800) 609-0683.

7/26/2013 Affordable Smart Term Life Insurance is now available to most North Carolina residents from age 20 through 60 directly online with no physical exam, agent appointment or telephone verification. Most policies are issued on the same day with coverage amounts of $25,000 up to $350,000. The level premium life insurance is available for terms of 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. Sample rates for $150,000 coverage for a preferred risk male age 30, non-tobacco $30.85 per month; tobacco user $49.55 per month. A preferred risk female age 30 non-tobacco user would be $26.49 per month and a tobacco user would be $40.96 per month. Rates are higher for older applicants and lower health risks as described online. Pricing is based on input you provide about your medical history but, unlike most other life insurers, does not consider family medical history. Coverage is issued by innovative National Life Group, rated "A" by A.M. Best Company for 2013.

3/11/2013 This page was updated to include a link to the insurance plan that will be used to determine specific "essential health benefits" for insurance that qualified for 2014 federal tax purposes. Also, a link to additional covered benefits required by state law. Non-qualified insurance is likely to continue to be available at a lower cost that does not include these benefits nor qualify for federal tax purposes.

2/1/2013 Milliman Inc., a research firm hired by the state, estimates that about 40% of the total North Carolina residents who will use an Health Insurance Exchange to purchase cost-subsidized insurance are currently uninsured. Lawmakers point out that more than half, about 60% - of the expected insurance exchange users are already covered and would be using the exchange to find less expensive coverage or tap into taxpayer-paid subsidies. As a result, some North Carolina lawmakers have proposed stopping work on the state-run insurance exchange in order to let the federal government foot the bill for what they fear may be a budget-breaking expense. State Senator Tom Apodaca was quoted as saying "You never know what's going to happen with the federal government. They're with you one day and the next day they pull out and leave you holding the bills."

2/15/2012 Concerns about health insurance consumer data and privacy issues about Health Insurance Smart NC navigator services are addressed on the Universal Health Insurance Blog. While the consumer data collection of Smart NC is clearly more invasive and beyond the scope of what would apparently be required to provide health insurance navigator services, the difference may be explained by the multiple function of this data collection form. We have no information on the custody and usage of personal data collected by the Smart NC program.

2/10/2012 North Carolina Department said that Wellpath Select, the state's second largest individual health insurance issuer expects to lose more than 80 percent of its customers due to federal benefits ratio requirements that caused the company to reduce compensation to its agents. The department hopes to prevent other insurance companies from leaving the state entirely due to the same federal regulation.

2/1/2012 The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, a division of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that as of June 30, 2011 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and UnitedHealthcare are the state's largest health insurance providers and as such, earn the right to set the benchmark for the development of the state's essential benefit plans to debut in 2014 under health reform law.

1/12/2012 Value Access Guarantee is no longer available in North Carolina.

9/12/2011 The popular defined benefit medical expense insurance marketed under the brand name "Core Health Insurance" is no longer available in North Carolina. This coverage has been the fastest growing type of individual insurance throughout most of the United States. North Carolina residents may need to continue to use the older major medical type policies for now. Federal law may eventually make this limited type health insurance coverage available across state lines regardless of residence.

8/12/2011 Long term care partnership update - The NC Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved the amendment to the North Carolina Medicaid State Plan to allow for resource disregard at long-term care Medicaid eligibility determination and resource protection at estate recovery. This allows individuals the freedom to purchase insurance without worrying about the risk of losing coverage that might have been available through Medicaid. The new “Partnership Program” is offered through independent insurance agents in conjunction with Medicaid. Transamerica Life, Mutual of Omaha and Massachusetts Mutual are all participating in the insurance program.

5/29/2011 North Carolina lawmakers plan to cut spending for "optional" services provided by Medicaid. The affected services include items such as insulin, podiatry, chiropractic services, eye exams, dental care and at-home chemotherapy. These services account for about half of the spending of the 1.4 million residents currently covered by the state's Medicaid programs. The cuts follow a national trend to trim benefits under Medicaid programs as enrollment and spending increases. It is unclear whether those affected by the benefit cutbacks will avoid these medical treatments or will try to afford their treatment through another means. The cutbacks are predicted to lead to an increase in more serious and more expensive medical conditions.

2/12/2011 With dozens of health plans choices available online offering a wide range of pricing and benefits, how do you find the best combination of price and benefits? Celtic Insurance realizes that the choices can be overwhelming; the company offers more than 40 possible health plan designs in many parts of the United States. A new feature called "Help Me Choose" lets users easily and quickly select the benefits they value most and narrows the list down to a few of the best choices. No personal information is required other than zip code and date of birth.

1/3/2011 Premium rates for Inclusive Health, the state's high risk health insurance plan, dropped by 10% or more for 2011. For those 63 and over, premiums have decreased as much as 31 percent. The premium rate for a 64-year-old non-smoker drops from $592 per month to $412. The rate for applicants age 50 or younger drops from $346 to $315. The national average health insurance premium is now about $400 per month so these new premium rates for Inclusive Health plan are very competitive. A total of 513 North Carolina residents signed up for the plan in 2010 but it is not known how many policies were still in force for 2011. The premium reduction may help attract more previously uninsured members.

12/16/2010 North Carolina Department of Insurance officials met representatives of 44 other states and numerous employees of the federal Health and Human Services Department in Washington DC this week for a two-day working meeting to discuss the next steps in establish a government-run health insurance exchange under the American Health Benefit Exchange Model Act. Their attendance at this meeting was paid for by a $1 million federal grant awarded by HHS in September to the state for research how to set up an insurance exchange. Two states (Alaska and Minnesota) declined to participate, saying that it was a waste of taxpayer money. Four other states (not identified in press reports) that received federal grants did not send representatives to the meeting. Attendees included representatives of 16 states that are suing the federal government in an attempt to overturn the federal health reform law; specifically the requirement that forces individuals to buy health insurance on the insurance exchange or pay a hefty tax fine.

In its initial federal grant request for the insurance exchange project, North Carolina said that it would: 1) Create an interagency group to work on the planning and establishing a foundation for the feasibility of the establishment of Exchange(s) in North Carolina. An advisory group has already been formed with eight different work groups to focus on different areas, 2) Build on the work of its SHAP grant to address the needs of the poor and near-poor, and 3) Determine if the implementation of NC Fast will have to be reexamined to function and/or interface with the Exchange. North Carolina has undertaken a multi-year program to streamline and combine the eligibility process for many of its income determined social programs.

The meeting reportedly did not address the role of the commercial health insurance exchanges on the implementation of new competing government systems. The model act does not address inter-state insurance exchange proposals nor insurance sales across state lines. Federal officials admitted that they may not be able to provide further guidance until 2012. Meanwhile, most states are motivated to continue to meet requirements to obtain additional funding promised by the federal government for the establishment of insurance exchange by 2014. Freedom Benefits has previously voiced the opinion that the huge amount of money being spent to set up alternate insurance sales system technologies could be better used providing health benefits to the public. We proposed on the Universal Health Insurance blog that adequate commercial insurance sales systems are already in place that could be modified in a public/private partnership to make health insurance more affordable.

5/14/2010 Diabetes Coverage: A new resource to help find health insurance for diabetics in North Carolina is now available at Freedom Benefits.



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This Web site is independently owned and operated by Tony Novak operating under the trademarks "Freedom Benefits", "OnlineAdviser" and "OnlineNavigator". Opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent the opinion of any other person, company or entity mentioned. Tony Novak is not an agent, broker, producer or navigator for any federal or state health insurance exchange but may provide uncompensated advice, reviews and referrals to these resources. Novak is compensated as an accountant, adviser, affiliate consultant, marketer, reviewer, endorser, producer, lead generator or referrer to some of the other commercial companies listed on this site. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.