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April 2009's most popular low cost health insurance

Kim Morris | May 3, 2009

Last month's low cost health insurance enrollment tallies brought some surprises. Core Health, the nation's most popular limited benefit health insurance, suddenly dropped to a #5 position. Meanwhile, a relatively obscure niche insurance jumped into the position of the nation's most popular low cost health insurance plan. Major medical vs. mini-med - Three of the top five most popular (American Health Shield, Secure STM and Celtic HSA) are major medical type insurance, while only two (Basic Health and Core Health) are mini-med insurance. This also reverses a trend that we have seen in the first three months of 2009 where the mini-meds were gaining popularity. Core health is generally considered to offer the highest benefit levels and therefore the most expensive of the mini-med class of insurance policies, while Basic Health often offers the lowest benefit levels and lowest pricing. Length of coverage - Three of the top five (Core, Basic and Celtic) are long term renewable plans while two are short term medical insurance. American Health Shield is a 1to 6 month policy while Secure STM offers a wider 1 to 36 month range of coverage. Brand name popularity - The single biggest surprise in health insurance enrollments was that American Health Shield short term medical insurance issued by Fairmont Specialty Group jumped to the #1 most popular low cost medical insurance. This insurance accounted for 1 of every 5 policies purchased at MedSave.com in April. The last time this insurance raked in the ten most popular insurance plans was 2003. The American Health Shield brand name has always been popular with students due to its design simplicity and low cost. Students tend to purchase health insurance in the spring when they leave parents' plans or college-based health insurance. Still, these factors do not seem to account for such a sharp spike in popularity. We are unaware of any pricing advantage or marketing effort that may have contributed to this sudden gain.  Following are the April 2009 popularity rankings for low cost health insurance plans. (Low cost health insurance is defined as a product whose average premium is at least 1/3 lower than the prevailing community-based ratings. This ranking excludes the enrollments for all community-rated managed care health plans like Blue Cross, Humana, Cigna, Aetna, Wellpoint, Kaiser, etc.that are issued through InsureMe). 1. American Health Shield  19.6% 2. Secure STM   13.7% 3. Basic Health Insurance  13.7%

4. Celtic HSA   9.8%

5. Core Health  7.8% Overall, enrollments in low cost health insurance remained statistically identical to the previous month but up 24% from the prior year. More information, reviews,details and personal online enrollment support for all of these insurance plans can be accessed from MedSave.com. Tags : low cost health insurance, most popular

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