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 have been reduced dramatically.
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 and how they differ based upon the state you reside in.
Monthly and Annual Health Insurance Rates by State
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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 coverage, 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 / 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 plans increase according to the age scale set by the federal guidelines.
Monthly and annual health insurance rates by metal tier
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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 PPO, HMO, EPO or POS plan, consumers will have access to the health care providers 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.
Monthly and annual health insurance rates by plan type
Factors that impact health insurance quotes
For a particular health insurance plan, the cost of coverage is determined by a limited set of factors, which 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 cheaper rates for the same policy than a resident of Jackson County.
- Smoking/tobacco use: If you smoke, you can pay up to 50% higher rates for health insurance, though the maximum increase is determined by 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 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.