The average cost for individual health insurance in 2021 is $452 a month. This cost may vary depending on where you live and how much coverage you want. This article will cover:

How much does health insurance cost?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in 2021, the average health insurance benchmark premium is $452 a month, or $5,424 a year. This is down slightly from the average monthly cost of $462 in 2020. The graph below shows how prices have changed in recent years.

Average monthly cost of health insurance
Year Monthly health insurance rate
2018 $481
2019 $478
2020 $462
2021 $452
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.

Keep in mind that these are just the national averages. Your health insurance costs may vary considerably depending on which state you call home.

Average monthly cost of health insurance by tier and state

State Bronze plan Silver plan Gold plan
  2020 2021 2020 2021 2020 2021
Alabama $384 $401 $521 $549 $641 $669
Alaska $448 $435 $698 $673 $636 $608
Arizona $363 $342 $435 $418 $579 $553
Arkansas $320 $322 $358 $387 $461 $499
California $314 $323 $396 $400 $443 $444
Colorado $280 $273 $353 $346 $385 $383
Connecticut $340 $368 $547 $523 $533 $489
Delaware $372 $400 $521 $522 $531 $517
District of Columbia $345 $337 $404 $384 $450 $431
Florida $338 $339 $454 $447 $501 $489
Georgia $347 $348 $430 $443 $491 $463
Hawaii $363 $314 $460 $467 $455 $440
Idaho $329 $330 $512 $492 $551 $526
Illinois $361 $337 $435 $415 $499 $478
Indiana $310 $333 $381 $400 $534 $592
Iowa $398 $311 $636 $481 $527 $443
Kansas $372 $373 $496 $470 $497 $501
Kentucky $335 $342 $453 $455 $582 $579
Louisiana $376 $410 $467 $502 $571 $614
Maine $384 $348 $506 $435 $609 $494
Maryland $266 $222 $388 $342 $373 $327
Massachusetts $259 $277 $324 $353 $386 $419
Michigan $251 $255 $348 $340 $382 $370
Minnesota $256 $251 $294 $295 $355 $362
Mississippi $422 $407 $449 $458 $575 $543
Missouri $379 $347 $467 $467 $593 $530
Montana $328 $330 $455 $445 $502 $483
Nebraska $468 $439 $667 $645 $613 $631
Nevada $307 $280 $372 $383 $482 $472
New Hampshire $303 $247 $390 $325 $456 $363
New Jersey $314 $319 $382 $388 $657 $661
New Mexico $257 $236 $326 $328 $342 $324
New York $418 $430 $588 $588 $706 $709
North Carolina $365 $350 $518 $503 $553 $518
North Dakota $273 $273 $372 $464 $409 $432
Ohio $278 $280 $368 $360 $445 $428
Oklahoma $365 $367 $527 $504 $521 $502
Oregon $314 $318 $428 $426 $468 $458
Pennsylvania $335 $306 $449 $439 $486 $427
Rhode Island $219 $231 $314 $328 $325 $339
South Carolina $351 $328 $496 $469 $529 $513
South Dakota $438 $454 $588 $609 $659 $652
Tennessee $351 $340 $485 $454 $617 $564
Texas $295 $301 $418 $420 $471 $429
Utah $289 $285 $479 $467 $609 $483
Vermont $476 $491 $645 $666 $652 $674
Virginia $380 $358 $506 $470 $510 $464
Washington $305 $280 $386 $380 $435 $422
West Virginia $552 $596 $619 $635 $804 $825
Wisconsin $345 $338 $470 $443 $484 $4800
Wyoming $590 $519 $875 $785 $732 $645
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

These average health insurance prices are based on the lowest-cost plans that KFF studied. They do not figure in cost-sharing reductions or tax credits, which will be discussed later.

As mentioned earlier, various factors drive cost differences in health insurance by state. Rhode Island, for example, has some of the cheapest health insurance, at only $231 a month for a Bronze plan. This is due in part to a statewide reinsurance program enacted to help reduce insurers' costs. In Wyoming, on the other hand, a Bronze plan costs an average $519 a month. These expensive health insurance rates largely come down to the lack of Medicaid expansion in the state. This affects the state's uninsured rate, which increases health insurance costs for all.

How your health insurance plan tier affects cost

ACA, or "Obamacare", health insurance plans come in four tiers, each named for a different metal: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each tier is based on the "actuarial value" of a plan. Actuarial value is the percentage of costs each tier takes care of versus your out-of-pocket costs.

Bronze plan

  • Monthly rate: $342
  • Covers 60% of costs, you pay 40%

Bronze plans are the least expensive of the four health insurance tiers in terms of premiums. However, out-of-pocket costs are comparatively high. Bronze plans work best if you don't go to the doctor often and aren't on a long prescription drug regimen.

Silver plan

  • Monthly rate: $459
  • Covers 70% of costs, you pay 30%

This health care plan tier often works best if you qualify for programs such as cost reductions and tax credits toward health coverage. These programs often help decrease your overall medical costs. If you're not eligible for these programs, the Gold plan is often a good investment.

Gold plan

  • Monthly rate: $503
  • Covers 80% of costs, you pay 20%

Gold plans are geared towards people who visit the doctor frequently or otherwise require constant medical aid. Your monthly rate will cost more, but you also will hit your deductible limit faster than the lower-tier plans. In the long run, this may be cheaper for covered care than you would pay with a Bronze or Silver tier plan.

Platinum plan

Platinum tier plans offer the best actuarial value/out-of-pocket cost ratio of all the plans. They pay 90% of your medical claims before deductibles, and your out-of-pocket cost is the remaining 10%. Despite this, they're not popular. People looking for health insurance tend to avoid them due to their incredibly high premiums. As such, accurate average costs for them are not available.

The table below shows the actuarial and out-of-pocket percentages for each tier.

How health insurance tiers affect your health care costs
Health insurance tier Monthly rate Costs covered by plan Your cost
Bronze $342 60% 40%
Silver $459 70% 30%
Gold $503 80% 20%
Platinum NA 90% 10%
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Catastrophic health insurance plans

For qualifying Americans under the age of 30, catastrophic plans are available to provide what can be considered last-resort health insurance. Catastrophic plan premiums are lower than even Bronze tier plans. However, you pay more for visits and prescriptions due to high deductibles, which are $8,550 for the year in 2021.

Factors that affect your health insurance costs

The cost of your health insurance plan depends on what your policy limits are, along with some factors specific to you. These include:

Your premium

Your health insurance premium is the amount you pay for coverage either monthly or annually.

Deductible

This is the amount you agree to pay out on a health insurance claim before your policy pays out its part. The higher your health insurance deductible, the lower your premium will be. For example, KFF found that families with employer-sponsored health care paid an average deductible of $1,644 in 2020.

Coinsurance

This is an amount you pay for a medical treatment or service after your deductible limit has been reached. This amount is often a percentage rather than a fixed fee. For example, say you have a 20% coinsurance rate and a $3,000 deductible. If you have a $10,000 treatment, you'd pay 20% of the remaining $7,000 after the deductible is hit.

Copayment

This is a fixed rather than a percentage amount you pay for a health care service after your deductible is hit. Average copayment costs often come in at $10 to $20 per visit.

Out-of-pocket maximum

This amount is the most you pay in a given year for health services under your policy. Once your out-of-pocket limit is reached, your health insurance provider pays for all covered services for the remainder of the year. Deductible costs, as well as all coinsurance and copayment fees you pay during the year, go towards hitting the maximum.

For 2021, all Affordable Care Act marketplace plans have an out-of-pocket maximum of $8,550 for individuals and $17,100 for families.

Along with the above health care policy factors, there are other influences based on you personally. They include:

  • Your age
  • Annual income
  • How much coverage you want
  • The number of family members under your policy

Other health insurance options and their costs

Besides the marketplace insurance plans, there are other health insurance coverage options. There are plans available for purchase from private insurance providers, health care coverage you get from your job and even ways to continue your coverage if you are unemployed.

Private health insurance

If you aren't purchasing health insurance through the ACA marketplace, insurers have non-ACA regulated health insurance available as well. Private health insurance plans may have benefits that marketplace plans do not. For example, you may see a shorter wait time for treatment, which is good when you're looking at elective surgery. Going through a broker that can provide options both on and off the marketplace can give you a wider range of choices for your health care as well.

There are also some potential downsides with non-ACA plans. Cost is a big one. With ACA health insurance, you might qualify for tax credits or other income-based savings not available with private health insurance plans. These health care tax credits help lower your insurance costs by either paying part of your premium or providing a tax return refund.

Costs vary a great deal with private insurers on a state-by-state basis, making locking down an average cost difficult. To see what private insurers offer in your state, you can compare quotes from multiple health insurance providers.

Employer-based health insurance

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premiums paid for employer-provided health insurance were $7,470 for single coverage and $21,342 for family coverage in 2020. Both single coverage and family rates increased 4% over 2019 premiums. Employees enrolled in Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) coverage paid higher premiums in 2020, averaging out annually to $7,880 for single coverage and $22,248 for family coverage. What you pay depends on how much of the premium your employer covers.

COBRA health insurance

The cost of COBRA health insurance depends on your employer-based health insurance cost, often adding a 2% service fee. COBRA helps maintain your health care coverage if you lose employer-sponsored health insurance.

Consider COBRA if you're happy with your old job's health insurance and can afford it, especially since it can still cover dependents under conditions such as your death or divorce. However, COBRA coverage can often be much more expensive than coverage purchased through the ACA marketplace. Also, COBRA coverage usually has a limited time period of activity, usually between 18 and 36 months.

How the American Recovery Plan Act makes health insurance cheaper

Signed into law on March 11, 2021, the new $1.9 trillion COVD-19 stimulus package will have a major impact on the healthcare premiums of millions of Americans.

Officially known as the American Rescue Plan Act, this stimulus is expected to reduce healthcare premiums on some plans by as much as 20%. This will ultimately save millions of Americans hundreds of dollars on healthcare.

The stimulus plan reduces healthcare costs by expanding tax credits on many healthcare plans. Healthcare costs vary based upon an individual’s age, income and chosen plan but consider the following examples.

Stimulus impact for

45-year-old making $58,000


Before the stimulus

Got no aid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).


Under the new bill

Would get a $1,250 tax credit.

Stimulus impact for

64-year-old making $19,300


Before the stimulus

Pays around $800 a year


Under the new bill

They would pay $0 for a standard plan.

Under the new bill, they would get a $1,250 tax credit according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Single individual with an income of $19,300
Age Benchmark Premium Tax Credit Net Premium Paid Savings under ARPA vs Previous Law
21 years old $4,300 $4,300 $0 $800
45 years old $6,200 $6,200 $0 $800
64 years old $12,900 $12,900 $0 $800
Healthcare provisions under the new stimulus plan last until 2022.
Single individual with an income of $58,000
Age Benchmark Premium Tax Credit Net Premium Paid Savings under ARPA vs Previous Law
21 years old $4,300 $0 $4,300 $0
45 years old $6,200 $1,250 $4,950 $1,250
64 years old $12,900 $7,950 $4,950 $7,950
Healthcare provisions under the new stimulus plan last until 2022.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan will provide healthcare coverage to an additional 1.3 million Americans who previously had no health insurance.

The number of uninsured Americans has varied wildly from state to state since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Ohio, the number of people without healthcare has gone down by almost 50%. In North Dakota, however, the number of uninsured has risen by 54% in the last year.

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