Individual health insurance premium prices fall two percent in 2021

Written by: Sue Thurber
Published on November 25, 2020.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have released their annual report for 2021 CMS Qualified Health Plans (QHPs). These are individual health insurance plans that enrollees purchase on the website.

This article summarizes key findings of the report.

Individual health insurance rates are trending down

In contrast to traditional group health insurance rates, which rose four percent in 2020, the average rate for individual plans decreased two percent, from $389 to $379. This continues a downward trend of four percent from $406 to $389 between 2019 to 2020. The benchmark premium prices the report cites are the second-lowest-cost silver plan for a 27-year old adult.

Benchmark rates in four states—Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, and Wyoming—decreased 10% or more. Iowa rates decreased by a whopping 29% to $429. The state with the lowest benchmark premium is New Hampshire at $273.

North Dakota experienced the biggest increase. Its benchmark rate increased 29% to $404/month. It’s useful to note that this is well below the state with the highest benchmark rate, which is Wyoming, at $648 per month and only 6.5% over the average rate of $379.

Want to know the individual rates in your state? See our State-by-State Open Enrollment 2020-2021 guide.

Enrollees have more choices than ever

Enrollees, on average, have more choice in 2021 than ever before. 22 more providers are offering QHPs in than in 2020 (for a total of 181). 27 states have counties with more QHP issuers in 2021 than 2020, either from new providers entering their market or existing providers expanding service areas. Only Delaware saw a decrease, with 2 QHPs dropping to 1 QHP. The average 2021 enrollee has between 4 and 5 QHP issuers available, compared to between 3 and 4 QHP issuers in PY20.

Deductibles are rising

While premium prices are falling, deductibles are rising. The median individual deductible increased for enrollees who did not have cost sharing reductions for lower income.

These increases are:

  • $6,755 to $6,992 for bronze QHPs
  • $4,630 to $4,879 for silver QHPs
  • $1,432 to $1,533 for gold QHPs


Last year, nearly 8.3 million people enrolled in individual coverage on during Open Enrollment— and this number will likely end up much higher after many states opened enrollment for Covid-19. An additional 3.1 million enrollees purchased plans on their state marketplace.

Between downward trending premiums, the introduction of the individual coverage HRA (ICHRA) in January of 2020—which enables employers to reimburse employees for premiums, tax-free—and the continued impact of Covid-19, we expect 2021 to be the individual coverage market’s most successful year to date.

Learn more about HRAs

Originally published on November 25, 2020. Last updated November 25, 2020.


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