How Much Is Health Insurance?

Average Premium Costs and Tips for Saving

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Open enrollment for health insurance plans—whether it's an employer-sponsored plan or an Obamacare plan you buy through a federal or state healthcare exchange—generally takes place in the last two or three months of the year. Unless you have a qualifying life event such as getting married or losing your job at a different time of the year, open enrollment is the time to shop around to ensure that you’re paying the best price for the right coverage.

It helps to first understand what average premiums are, how the rates have changed over the past few years, and ways you can reduce your monthly premium.

Key Takeaways

  • Open enrollment for health insurance plans usually takes place toward the end of the year.
  • The average premium for marketplace plans was $594 in 2022, but premiums vary by state and government subsidies can dramatically lower costs.
  • The average premium for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2021 was $7,739 per year for single coverage and $22,221 for family coverage—though employees paid only a fraction of that cost, on average.
  • To qualify for an Obamacare subsidy or tax credit, you must earn between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line, and not have access to affordable coverage through an employer.

How Much Is Health Insurance?

The average American spent $3,704 on health insurance in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And per to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average person's monthly premium for plans made available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA—also known as Obamacare) during open enrollment for 2022 was $594 compared to $590 in 2021 and $595 in 2020.

Average Monthly Obamacare Premiums Per State

While $594 was the national average monthly premium for ACA plans, it’s important to understand that the majority of people enrolled get subsidies in the form of advance premium tax credits (APTCs).

The table below shows the state-by-state average premium for Obamacare plans in 2022. It also gives the average monthly premium after the average advance premium tax credit is applied, as well as the average monthly premium after APTC for consumers who received an APTC. (More on APTC eligibility in the "Health Insurance With and Without a Subsidy" section below.)

Obamacare Average Premiums for 2022
Location Average Premium Average Premium After APTC Average Premium After APTC Among Consumers Receiving APTC
United States $594 $111 $77
Alabama $765 $96 $66
Alaska $746 $158 $77
Arizona $554 $180 $120
Arkansa $537 $134 $97
California $579 $150 $115
Colorado $466 $191 $124
Connecticut $741 $207 $115
Delaware $706 $169 $114
District of Columbia $559 $502 $264
Florida $611 $80 $60
Georgia $530 $105 $72
Hawaii $642 $164 $97
Idaho $508 $214 $63
Illinois $643 $204 $155
Indiana $564 $193 $121
Iowa $666 $135 $90
Kansas $627 $149 $104
Kentucky $579 $185 $113
Louisiana $764 $157 $118
Maine $554 $163 $102
Maryland $447 $158 $99
Massachusetts $470 $201 $97
Michigan $503 $170 $125
Minnesota $481 $280 $190
Mississippi $618 $72 $53
Missouri $629 $137 $93
Montana $577 $142 $91
Nebraska $707 $121 $97
Nevada N/A N/A N/A
New Hampshire $447 $212 $135
New Jersey $620 $197 $148
New Mexico $540 $219 $156
New York $608 $400 $233
North Carolina $637 $96 $68
North Dakota $507 $100 $69
Ohio $575 $230 $138
Oklahoma $623 $93 $69
Oregon $587 $201 $130
Pennsylvania $616 $168 $133
Rhode Island $477 $135 $89
South Carolina $585 $107 $81
South Dakota $696 $91 $67
Tennessee $619 $128 $85
Texas $557 $86 $60
Utah $408 $62 $42
Vermont $692 $204 $135
Virginia $577 $126 $81
Washington $485 $229 $120
West Virginia $1,144 $204 $156
Wisconsin $629 $161 $118
Wyoming $857 $88 $52

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Plan Costs

While employer-sponsored plans can be a better deal for consumers who don't qualify for Obamacare subsidies, they are usually not free. Your employer may contribute to the cost of your plan as part of your employee benefits, but these are decisions companies make for themselves.

The average premium for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2021 was up 4% from 2020 at $7,739 per year for single coverage and $22,221 for family coverage. That's a 22% increase over the last five years and a 47% increase over the last 10.

Deductibles are on the increase, too. The average deductible for covered workers who had a deductible in 2021 was $1,669. That's roughly the same as 2020, but it's 13% higher than five years before, and it's 68% higher than 10 years before.

Obamacare Insurance Subsidies

To qualify for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy in the form of a premium tax credit, you must not have affordable coverage available through an employer. You must also earn between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL).

In the 48 contiguous United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) the subsidy range is from $12,880 to $51,520 for an individual and $31,040 to $124,160 for a family of four.

If you do not qualify for a subsidy, the percentage of your income that you need to cover your health insurance costs rises dramatically. You can use a subsidy calculator to help estimate what you can expect to pay for ACA health insurance this year.

Note

In 2021, the American Rescue Plan temporarily increased the availability of these subsidies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, many people who buy insurance through the marketplace are now eligible for a subsidy, even if their income was too high to qualify in previous years. The size of these subsidies varies with income, but for some taxpayers, they will reduce monthly premiums to $0 in 2022. However, if your income is higher than expected over the course of the year, you may have to repay some of these credits at tax time.

What Determines the Price of Your Health Insurance?

Now that you understand the average costs of health insurance and how to qualify for a subsidy, the question you may have is: What is going to make the price of my health insurance go up or down?

Factors that will impact your cost of health insurance may include:

  • Whether you qualify for a subsidy or not
  • Your age
  • Where you live
  • How many people are covered by the plan (individual vs. family coverage)
  • Whether you use tobacco
  • What out-of-pocket costs your health insurance plan will require, and whether there is a maximum
  • Whether you have coverage available from your domestic partner's or spouse’s employer
  • The type of plan you have

Which ACA Health Insurance Plan Costs the Least? 

There are four metal tiers of plans for Obamacare: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Looking at the most common tiers (the bottom three), the average Marketplace premium decreased in each between 2018 and 2020. 

  • The average lowest-cost premium for bronze coverage was $331 in 2020, $328 in 2021, and $329 in 2022.
  • The average lowest-cost premium for silver coverage was $442 in 2020, $436 in 2021, and $428 in 2022.
  • The average lowest-cost premium for gold coverage was $501 in 2020, $482 in 2021, and $462 in 2022.

Those average numbers can be deceiving. Your total costs may vary, depending on factors such as how much the out-of-pocket costs are for each category of plan, whether you qualify for a subsidy, and the actual cost of each tier in your area.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurers have lowered the cost of gold plans in recent years more than they've dropped the cost of silver plans, so that in some cases, the monthly cost of a silver plan is equal to or above that of a gold plan. Insurers generally load extra costs entirely onto the silver tier. That is known as “silver loading” and could impact your choice of a plan if you are unsubsidized.

Note

Get quotes for all metal tiers when comparing coverage options.

Tips For Reducing Health Insurance Costs

Shopping and doing the research to find the best health insurance are important, because your situation and medical expenses play large roles in what you get out of your health insurance plan. 

  • A health savings account (HSA) may help you save money on your medical spending if you have a qualifying high-deductible plan to go with it.
  • Compare the out-of-pocket costs for different plans. Out-of-pocket costs may include deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
  • Create a checklist of what is important for you or your family, and compare how each plan fits with what you are looking for. 
  • Make sure your plan allows you access to the providers you want. If you choose a plan with a limited provider network, you may find it harder not to rack up additional costs for using out-of-network providers.  
  • If both you and your spouse have access to health insurance, consider using coordination of benefits to leverage your coverage and potentially reduce costs.
  • If you foresee costs, such as those related to mental health needs or pregnancy in the near future, review your health insurance options with your family's needs and plans in mind. Some health insurance plans may have better coverage for pregnancy and childbirth than others.

Note

Look into membership-based health insurance or other options like direct-enrollment sites to give you the most options to save money.

The Bottom Line

Even if you don't have access to an employee plan, the cost of an ACA health insurance plan may still be affordable or, in some cases, free. If you do not qualify for a subsidy, the cost of health insurance can be increasingly challenging. Be sure to check out all of your options in the various marketplace tiers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the health insurance marketplace?

The health insurance marketplace is a health insurance portal run by the U.S. government. People who need health insurance can come to this centralized exchange and shop for a plan. The marketplace was mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and can be accessed at Healthcare.gov.

What is a health insurance premium?

The premium is basically the cost for your insurance. Your employer may pay all or a portion of your premium, or you may pay it. It is typically paid by the month, and it's important to pay it on time so you continue to be covered by insurance.

How long can you stay on your parents' health insurance plan?

The ACA mandates that you can stay on a parents' health insurance plan until you turn 26.

Updated by Yasmin Ghahremani
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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Consumer Expenditures."

  2. Kaiser Family Foundation. "Marketplace Average Premiums and Average Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC),"

  3. HealthCare.gov. "The Marketplace In Your State."

  4. Kaiser Family Foundation. "2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey."

  5. Kaiser Family Foundation. "Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About Health Insurance Subsidies."

  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "American Rescue Plan and the Marketplace."

  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "How Insurance Companies Set Health Premiums."

  8. Kaiser Family Foundation. "Average Marketplace Premiums by Metal Tier."

  9. Kaiser Family Foundation. "How ACA Marketplace Premiums Are Changing by County in 2021."

  10. Kaiser Family Foundation. "2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey."

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