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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
Core Health Insurance - the nation's most popular defined benefit health plans with guaranteed acceptance from US Fire Insurance Company
Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan - a temporary government-sponsored plan available to citizens/residents who have  been uninsured for more than 6 months due to a pre-existing medical condition.
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
Value Med Insurance - 3 question simple medical eligibility and immediate approval for supplemental doctor and hospital benefits

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

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

Virginia affordable health insurance exchange and supplemental coverage

Prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Virginia had 22 commercial health insurance companies that issued individual major medical insurance and 36 small group health insurance plans as well as the open enrollment Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield health plan for residents who have been denied other commercial coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions. 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 Virginia 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.

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

Virginia insurance & benefit news

Virginia had the 21st lowest health insurance costs of all states in 2008 with an average family premium of $11,939 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 22nd out of the 51 states (including DC).
The state has the 24th lowest 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 $945 per month for family coverage.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia is by far the largest health insurance company in Virginia, collecting more premium revenue than the next ten largest companies combined.

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.
Consumers Direct Critical Illness Insurance - Secure UpgradeSM $10,000 lump sum supplemental coverage for cancer, stroke or health disease for as little as $25 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

Virginia insurance law and regulation

The Virginia Bureau of Insurance Web site contains a link 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 (804) 371-9741 or by mail at P.O. Box 1157, Richmond VA 23218. The state children's health insurance plan (CHIP) Web site is Virginia FAMIS.

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.

International Coverage and Travel Insurance

Virginia 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 Virginia 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.

4/10/2013 Virginia Tech students were overcharged for health insurance due to fraud by the company selected to run the school's student health insurance plan, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed in federal court in Abingdon VA today.

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.

2/15/2012 The cost for specific health care services can be easily estimated and compared using Virginia's "Health Care Prices" online report. We recommend that consumers use this service and discuss prices with medical providers before agreeing to a plan of treatment. Consumers have been reluctant to discuss price with their medical providers partly because they lacked information about pricing of medical services. Implementation of health reform means that more consumers are on the hook for a larger portion of their own health expenses. The state hopes that this reporting service will help empower consumers to negotiate pricing and payment terms with their medical providers. 

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 Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, and Optima Health Plan 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 Virginia.

7/10/2011  The U.S. Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight announced that Virginia lacks proper resources or authority in the small-group market to effectively review large rate increases as required by federal law. The federal government will temporarily take over the task of reviewing small business health insurance rate increases that are more than 10%.

2/7/2011 The state's pre-existing condition insurance plan (PCIP) monthly premium rates (per person):

Plan/Age Band

0-18

19-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Standard

$156

$234

$281

$358

$498

Extended

$210

$315

$378

$482

$671

HSA

$162

$243

$291

$372

$518

PCIP will cover a broad range of health benefits, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, and prescription drugs. All covered benefits are available for you, beginning on your coverage effective date, even if it’s to treat a pre-existing condition - there are no waiting periods. PCIP applicants who are approved to participate in PCIP can choose from three plan options, with different levels of premiums, calendar year deductibles, prescription deductibles and prescription copays. The HSA Option provides an opportunity to open a Health Savings Account, a tax-exempt account where you can deposit funds for eligible medical expenses. Each of the three PCIP plan options provides preventive care (paid at 100%, with no deductible) when you see an in-network doctor and the doctor indicates preventive diagnosis. Included are annual physicals, flu shots, routine mammograms and cancer screenings. For other care, you will pay a deductible before PCIP pays for your health care and prescriptions. After you pay the deductible, you will pay 20% of medical costs in-network. The maximum you will pay out-of-pocket for covered services in a calendar year is $5,950 in-network/$7,000 out-of-network. There is no lifetime maximum or cap on the amount the plan pays for your care. If you apply for PCIP coverage on the government Web site, you will be billed for the premium once your application is approved. You will need to send in your payment in order for your coverage to be effective. Please do not send in the premium before you are billed. Note that your premium may increase if you age into a higher rate tier, or if PCIP adjusts its premiums to any changes in the commercial market.

1/30/2011 Patients with health insurance and a credit card now have access to VIP treatment when care is needed at a hospital emergency room. Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News and Family Health Clinic at the Crossings in Hopewell joined the growing list of hospitals that allows patients to use InQuickER, a reservation system that books appointments and reduces waiting time in the emergency room. The reservation system makes check-in easier by recording your insurance and payment information in advance. The service costs $15 to $25. Of course the nature unpredictable medical emergencies mean that the service cannot absolutely guarantee that you'll be seen immediately at your appointment time, but you get a full refund if not treated within 15 minutes after arrival. The InQuickER service works in conjunction with any of the private health insurance plans listed here at FreedomBenefits.net but is not available to uninsured patients.

12/16/2010 Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services 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, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services said that it would: 1) Establish task forces in six key areas, Medicaid Reform, Insurance Market Reform and Exchanges, Delivery and Payment Reform, Capacity, Technology, and Purchasers, via the Virginia Health Reform Initiative (VHRI). VHRI has been established within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. VHRI Advisory Council members represent leaders from the legislature, health care delivery, health care policy, health insurance, and the business community, and 2) Provide options on the planning, research, development, and implementation issues on how an Exchange’s governance, financial operations and oversight, and technical infrastructure.

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 Virginia is now available at Freedom Benefits.

3/24/2010 Virginia enacted a new saying that no Virginian can be required to purchase insurance. Additional legal action against the federal government's health care reform law is expected in the near future.

3/18/2010 Five of the state's largest health insurance companies received state approval to raise premium rates an average of 14% beginning April 1 or May 1. The rate increases for Humana, Prudential, Golden Rule, Anthem and Optima and are primarily attributable to increases in utilization or the rate at which members elect to use expensive services like MRIs, CAT scans and other technology intensive diagnostic procedures.  Prudential experienced an even higher rate of increased claims but the state will require the insurer to recoup the costs though other methods like limiting benefits or allocating the costs to future rate increases to other types of health plan members instead.


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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.