Health Insurance

Best Cheap Health Insurance in Iowa 2021

Best Cheap Health Insurance in Iowa 2021

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People who live in Iowa can find cheap health insurance through their state exchange, but the best plan for you depends on where you live and your needs.

In Iowa, the average health insurance premium for a 2021 plan is $451 per month for a 40-year-old, 20% lower than in 2020. The mean cost of a policy decreased by $110.

We researched all health insurance plans in Iowa and found that in the majority of the state, either the Wellmark Silver Modified HMO or the Oscar Silver Saver was the cheapest Silver health insurance policy. Although these plans may not be offered in every county, they offered some of the best health insurance premiums and coverage benefits in the areas of Iowa where they're available. We also ran the numbers to find the cheapest plans for all other metal tiers.

Select a plan tier to learn more:

Read on for our analysis of the cheapest plans overall, the cheapest plans by location and how family size affects the cost of your policy.

Cheapest health insurance coverage by metal tier

We compared Iowa health insurance plans by metal tier and identified the cheapest plan in each category to help you find the best policy for your desired level of coverage. These policies aren't offered in every county, but we recommend using the table below to review the differences between metal tiers.

For instance, the Wellmark Gold Modified HMO policy has a monthly premium of $427 for a 40-year-old. The Gold health plan is $128 more expensive than the Wellmark Bronze HDHP HMO plan, but the Gold policy offers a lower out-of-pocket maximum.

Metal tier
Cheapest plan
Maximum out-of-pocket
Monthly cost for a 40-year-old
CatastrophicInspire by Medica Catastrophic$8,550$8,550$257
Expanded BronzeWellmark Bronze HDHP HMO$4,200$7,900$299
SilverOscar Silver Saver$4,200$8,550$457
GoldWellmark Gold Modified HMO$5,250$5,250$427
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Age and coverage tier are two important factors that affect your monthly premium. As age increases, premiums across all metal tiers increase.

For higher-coverage tiers, it means higher rates but lower out-of-pocket costs if you were to use your insurance. For example, a 40-year-old would pay $570 less per month than a 60-year-old for a Gold plan in Iowa. But a 40-year-old with an Expanded Bronze plan would pay $458 less on average than a 60-year-old.

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Finding your best health insurance coverage in Iowa

The best health insurance plans for you in Iowa change depending on your county and coverage needs. For example, the Inspire by Medica Silver Copay health plan isn't available in Pottawattamie county.

In this region, the Wellmark Silver Modified HMO plan is the cheapest. Still, no matter where you live, you will be able to choose from different metal tiers that offer varying levels of coverage and rates to fit your lifestyle.

In general, higher metal tier health plans, such as Gold policies, typically have higher monthly premiums. However, they provide lower out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance, than Silver or Bronze policies.

If you have high recurring medical costs that arise from chronic conditions or require regular medical attention, a higher metal tier health plan may be the best option for you. On the other hand, a lower metal tier policy may be the best option if you're young and healthy — and are willing to risk higher potential cost sharing in exchange for lower monthly rates.

Gold plans: Best for high expected medical costs

Gold health insurance plans are typically the best for those who expect to use their insurance often. These cover the most out-of-pocket costs, which means lower deductibles, copays and coinsurance. However, this usually means you'll pay a higher monthly premium than you would with a Silver or Bronze plan.

Ultimately, these health plans are best if you have recurring or high expected medical costs, such as prescriptions or medical equipment, or you're concerned about paying out of pocket for an unexpected condition. On average, you can expect a Gold plan to cover roughly 80% of your health care expenses, while you pay the other 20%.

The cheapest Gold plan in Iowa is the Wellmark Gold Modified HMO. Compare all tiers in Iowa above.

Silver plans: Best for people with low incomes or average medical costs

Silver policies give you the option of a middle ground between Gold and Bronze health insurance plans. Silver plans offer monthly premiums that fall between Gold and Bronze plans, but that means your out-of-pocket costs, like deductibles, copays and coinsurance, also fall in between them.

If you are part of a lower-income household, you may qualify for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies with a Silver health plan, which would further lower your out-of-pocket expenses. Typical Silver plans cover about 70% of your health care costs, while you pay 30%. But under CSR subsidies, you could qualify for a Silver plan that covers up to 94% of your health care costs.

The cheapest Silver plan in Iowa is the Oscar Silver Saver. Compare all tiers in Iowa above.

Expanded Bronze and Catastrophic plans: Best for young, healthy people

Catastrophic plans provide the least coverage, but they also have the lowest monthly rates. In order to qualify for a Catastrophic policy, you must be under 30 years old or qualify for an exemption. Catastrophic plans also are not eligible for premium tax credits.

Bronze plans, on the other hand, are open to everyone and offer cheaper monthly premiums than higher metal tier plans. The lower rates mean reduced coverage, which translates to higher out-of-pocket costs. So, if you needed medical care during the year, you would have to pay more yourself before coverage would kick in.

Lastly, a tier between Silver and Bronze was introduced last year. This Expanded Bronze tier extends the coverage of a typical Bronze plan, which usually covers about 60% of your health care costs, to cover up to about 65% of your medical costs.

The cheapest Expanded Bronze plan in Iowa is the Wellmark Bronze HDHP HMO. The cheapest Catastrophic plan is the Inspire by Medica Catastrophic. Compare all tiers in Iowa above.

Best cheap health insurance companies in Iowa

Three years ago, Wellmark joined the state exchange, and Iowa now has three insurers on its health insurance marketplace. Your choices are— Medica Insurance Co., Oscar Insurance Co., Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa Inc. and Wellmark Value Health Plan Inc. Wellmark provides a variety of great options for health plans and offers the lowest-cost Silver policy in 85 out of 99 counties.

Cheapest health insurance plan by county

We evaluated the most affordable Silver health insurance plans that are available through the Iowa exchange by county to help you find your best-priced health insurance in your location. Below, you can find the policy with the cheapest monthly premium as well as sample rates for an individual, couple and family of three in your county.

Cheapest plan
Age 40
Couple, age 40
Couple, age 40 plus child
AdairWellmark Silver Modified HMO$502$1,004$1,304
AdamsWellmark Silver Modified HMO$502$1,004$1,304
AllamakeeWellmark Silver Modified HMO$529$1,059$1,376
AppanooseWellmark Silver Modified HMO$471$941$1,223
AudubonWellmark Silver Modified HMO$502$1,004$1,304
BentonWellmark Silver Modified HMO$471$941$1,223
Black HawkWellmark Silver Modified HMO$471$941$1,223
BooneWellmark Silver Modified HMO$489$978$1,271
BremerOscar Silver Saver$457$914$1,187
BuchananWellmark Silver Modified HMO$471$941$1,223
Buena VistaWellmark Silver Modified HMO$502$1,004$1,304
ButlerOscar Silver Saver$457$914$1,187
Show All Rows
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HMO","$502","$1,004","$1,304"],["Henry","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Howard","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$529","$1,059","$1,376"],["Humboldt","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$529","$1,059","$1,376"],["Ida","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$502","$1,004","$1,304"],["Iowa","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Jackson","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Jasper","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$489","$978","$1,271"],["Jefferson","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Johnson","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Jones","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Keokuk","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Kossuth","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$529","$1,059","$1,376"],["Lee","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Linn","Wellmark Silver Modified HMO","$471","$941","$1,223"],["Louisa","Wellmark Silver Modified 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Average cost of health insurance by family size in Iowa

If you're looking for health insurance for your family, the size of your family and their ages will affect the cost of your policy. For children under the age of 15, the monthly rate remains flat, but once a child turns 15 years old, the monthly health plan premium will start increasing.

For example, the average cost of health insurance for a family of three, assuming two 40-year-old parents and a child, is $1,416 in Iowa with a Silver plan. For each additional child, the average cost of a Silver health plan increases by about $326, so a family of five would cost $2,068 per month on average for health coverage.

Family size
Average monthly cost of health plan
Individual plus child$871
Couple, age 40$1,090
Family of three (adult couple and a child)$1,416
Family of four (adult couple and two children)$1,742
Family of five (adult couple and three children)$2,068

Adults are assumed to be 40 years old. Children are assumed to be 14 or younger. Sample rates are based on the average cost of a Silver plan in Iowa.

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Health insurance rate changes in Iowa

In Iowa, the average cost of a health insurance plan has decreased by 20% since 2020. A typical 2021 policy for a 40-year-old costs $451, $110 less than a year ago.

The mean cost of a health plan has decreased across all metal tiers except Silver — a Silver plan now costs 10% more. Gold health insurance plans saw the largest percentage cost decrease in Iowa, with rates dropping by 22%.

Metal tier
2020 premium
2021 premium
Expanded Bronze$426$408-4.28%

Rates are based on a 40-year-old adult.

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The Iowa health insurance premium and plan information used in this analysis was sourced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). ValuePenguin determined the average rates by metal tier, family size and region by referencing cost data from the Public Use Files (PUF) on the CMS website.

Sterling Price

Sterling Price is a research analyst at ValuePenguin specializing in health and life insurance. He graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelors degree in Finance and Accounting and has previous experience as a licensed life insurance representative.

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.