Health Insurance

Average Cost of Health Insurance (2021)

Average Cost of Health Insurance (2021)

The average monthly cost of health insurance in the United States is $495.

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Health insurance premiums have risen dramatically over the past decade. In the past, insurers would price your health insurance based on any number of factors, but after the Affordable Care Act, the number of variables that impact your health insurance costs decreased significantly.

In 2021, the average cost of individual health insurance for a 40-year-old across all metal tiers of coverage is $495. This represents a decrease of close to 2% from the 2020 plan year.

Average cost of health insurance

One of the primary factors in your individual health insurance costs is your location, as prices will vary depending on the state and county where you live. In this first table, we look at health insurance premiums for 2021 and how they differ based upon the state you reside in.

Monthly cost
Annual cost
% change from average
1West Virginia$712$8,54043.79%
2New York$701$8,41341.64%
11South Dakota$561$6,73013.30%
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Policy premiums are for a 40-year-old applicant.

Change in average health insurance cost for 2021

From 2020 to 2021 health insurance rates decreased across the nation by over 2%. Additionally, year over year, Indiana saw the largest jump in health insurance costs across all metal tiers — increasing nearly 10%. Including Indiana, 21 states had their rates increase on average from 2020 to 2021.

Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey switched their health insurance exchanges from being government-based to state-based. Interestingly, New Jersey had an increase in rates of close to 9% due to the change, while Pennsylvania's rates went down — decreasing by 8%.

On the other hand, rates in Iowa and Maryland decreased the most year over year, falling 20% and 17%, respectively. Overall, 27 states experienced a decrease in health insurance premiums.

2021 average cost
2020 average cost
% change year over year
2New Jersey$543$5018.54%
4Rhode Island$417$3877.64%
5West Virginia$712$6666.82%
6North Carolina$521$4906.19%
7North Dakota$410$3876.13%
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Policy premiums are for a 40-year-old applicant.

Average health insurance premiums by metal tier

Health insurance plans are separated into different metal tiers based on the proportion of health care costs the insurance plan is expected to cover.

Catastrophic and Bronze plans cover the smallest proportion, having the highest deductibles, copays and coinsurance. On the other end of the spectrum, Platinum plans offer the greatest amount of coverage. They are expected to cover 90% of all costs.

The average rates paid for health insurance plans are inversely related to the amount of coverage they provide, with Platinum plans being the most expensive and Bronze and Catastrophic plans being the cheapest. The following table shows the average rates a 40-year-old would pay for individual health insurance based on plans in the different tiers. Older consumers would see their rates increase according to the age scale set by the federal guidelines.

Metal tier
2021 monthly premium
2021 yearly premium
2020 monthly premium
Year-over-year change
Expanded Bronze$418$5,017$428-2.31%

Policy premiums are for a 40-year-old applicant.

Average health insurance rates by plan type

Another distinction between plans that can change the rates you pay is the type of network the plan uses.

Depending on whether the plan is a preferred provider organization (PPO), health maintenance organization (HMO), exclusive provider organization (EPO) or point of service (POS), access to health care providers will be managed in different ways.

HMOs tend to be the most restrictive about which doctors you can see and what you must do to see them. This usually means that the insurers save on your cost of care and thereby provide lower premiums.

2021 monthly premium
2021 yearly premium
2020 monthly premium
Year-over-year change

Policy premiums are for a 40-year-old applicant.

Factors that impact health insurance rates

For a particular health insurance plan, the cost of coverage is determined by certain factors that have been set by law. States can limit the degree to which these factors impact your rates — for instance, some states like California and New York don't allow the cost of health insurance to differ based on tobacco use.

  • Age: The health care cost per person covered by a policy will be set according to their age, with rates increasing as the individual gets older. Children up to the age of 14 will cost a flat rate to add to a health plan, but premiums typically increase annually beginning at age 15.
  • Where you live: Health insurance companies determine the set of policies offered and the cost of coverage based on the state and county you live in. So a resident of Miami-Dade County in Florida, for instance, may pay lower rates for the same policy than a resident of Jackson County.
  • Smoking/tobacco use: If you smoke, you could pay up to 50% higher rates for health insurance, though the maximum increase is determined by the state.
  • Number of people insured: The total cost of a health plan is set according to the number of people covered by it, as well as each person's age and possibly their tobacco use. For example, a family of three, with two adults and a child, would pay a much higher monthly health insurance premium than an individual.

Frequently asked questions

How much does health insurance cost?

In 2021, the average cost of health insurance is $495 per month. However, costs vary by location. Insurance is expensive in New York and West Virginia, averaging more than $700 per month. States with cheaper health insurance include Maryland and New Hampshire, averaging less than $350 per month.

How much has the cost of health insurance changed?

During the coronavirus pandemic, the average cost of health insurance decreased about 2% between 2020 and 2021. However, rates will increase slightly in 2022.

How much does "Obamacare" cost each month?

A Bronze health insurance plan costs an average of $387 per month on the health insurance marketplace. However, subsidies can lower your monthly costs. If you earn $30,000 per year, a Bronze plan will cost about $30 per month. If you earn $45,000, the average cost is $214.


Health insurance premiums and plans found in the above report were aggregated from Public Use Files (PUF) on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services government website. Using the rates and premiums for each plan, averages were calculated for a variety of variables such as metal tier, family size or county.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.