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. “You probably qualify for assistance,” says Lang. With the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Americans who previously qualified for subsidies are eligible for more money and people who weren’t able to qualify previously now can, he adds.