How Much Does Health Insurance Cost?:The cost of health insurance varies dramatically, but certain factors might increase or lower your costs.
According to HealthCare.gov, the five things that can increase your monthly premium are:
- Your age. Premiums can be as much as three times higher for older people compared to younger enrollees.
- Your location. Where you live impacts your premium, depending on factors like cost of living and state rules.
- Tobacco use. People who use tobacco products can be charged up to 50% more compared to those who don’t.
- Whether you’re seeking coverage as an individual or for a family. If you’re signing up for a plan that will also cover dependents, expect to be charged more.
- Your plan category. There are four different “metal tiers” of plans you can choose from: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. These categories determine how you split your costs with your insurer. For example, bronze plans typically have lower monthly premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs than the other tiers, and platinum plans tend to have the highest premiums with the lowest out-of-pocket costs.
While health insurance is generally considered very expensive, there are ways to get help with paying for your coverage, says Lang. A recent Stride survey, found 80% of uninsured gig workers who didn’t think they could afford health insurance weren’t aware of tax credits that could assist with low-cost coverage. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package) has made insurance much more affordable, he adds. Stride data shows nearly 40% of gig workers who enrolled in health insurance in 2021 were paying less than $1 a month.
The ACA offers financial assistance that reduces monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs to help make health insurance more affordable. Premium tax credits, for example, are based on household income.
How to Choose the Best Health Insurance for You
There are some questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re choosing the best health insurance plan for you, including:
- What will your total costs be? In addition to the monthly premium you pay your insurance company, consider your deductible and what your out-of-pocket costs might look like. “Some people would like to have premiums as cheap as possible and are fine with a higher deductible,” says Turner, while others prefer the opposite.
- Are your favorite doctors “in network”? Each insurance company works with a certain network of providers. Before signing up for a plan, ensure that the doctors you want to see are included in the plan’s network. “As a mom, I don’t ever want to have my pediatrician not be in my network,” says Moore. “If you love your OBGYN or your family practice doctor, find out if they’re in network before you sign up, because it can make all the difference.”
- What type of plan is it? If you sign up for a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, you generally won’t be covered if you seek out-of-network care unless it’s an emergency. If you pick a Point of Service (POS) plan, you’ll be required to get a referral from your primary care physician in order to see a specialist. The kind of plan you choose will affect your out-of-pocket costs.
If you’re struggling to figure out which plan is best for you, Turner suggests seeking the assistance of a health insurance navigator. These trained professionals can help you figure out if you qualify for any financial assistance and compare plans. To find a health insurance navigator, go to HealthCare.gov and enter your ZIP code. These services are “free, confidential and available to the public around the country,” says Turner.
Another option is to contact a health insurance broker. Doing so is typically free since they’re paid by health insurers, says Moore. “It’s really no risk to you to reach out,” she adds, and it can be a helpful way to feel more confident in your decision.