The Cheapest States for Obamacare in 2021

Data Journalist

Updated on June 24th, 2021

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Key Findings

The average national benchmark premium in 2021 is $443 per month. 

The premium fell by 1.7% in 2021, for the third straight drop since 2019.

Benchmark premiums fell in 43 states in 2021.

The cost of Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) plans fell for a third straight year in 2021.

That’s according to new data analyzed by the Urban Institute

The report shows that the national average benchmark premium offered under the Affordable Care Act fell by 1.7% from 2020 to 2021. (The benchmark plan is the second-cheapest silver plan in an area.)

That follows a 3.2% fall in 2020 and a 1.2% drop in 2019. 

Easing prices come after a 31.9% jump in 2018 following the Trump administration’s announcement that the government would no longer reimburse insurers for cost-sharing reductions.

The Urban Institute looked at the cost of benchmark silver plan premiums for a 40-year-old nonsmoker, using data from Healthcare.gov for 36 states and from 15 state Marketplace websites. 

Easing costs for Obamacare plans contrast with 4% hikes in costs for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2019 and 2020.

States with the Cheapest Obamacare in 2021

At $292 per year, Minnesota has the cheapest average benchmark premium in 2021.

Minnesota’s premium is more than $150 less than the average national benchmark premium of $443 per month (before a tax credit).

The five cheapest states for premiums in 2021 are:

The five priciest states for premiums in 2021 are:

In total, average premiums for health insurance throughout the country fell in 43 states in 2021.

The Urban Institute says that premiums tend to be lower in states with higher numbers of competing insurers, states that expanded Medicaid and adopted reinsurance, and those with less hospital consolidation. 

Affordable Care Act Benchmark Premiums 2017-2021

Premiums Shaped by Market Competition and Local Policies

Rising competition helped to slow premium growth. 

In both 2020 and 2021, the Urban Institute says insurers boosted their participation in Marketplaces and added plans in new states.

The analysis shows the number of insurers participating in the Marketplace grew from 166 in 2017 to 224 in 2021. 

State policy moves like reinsurance programs also helped to slow the rise in premiums, as did the expansion of Medicaid.

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Marketplace remains to be seen. But the Urban Institute says it left insurers with surpluses as Americans put off non-essential medical care.

ACA Benchmark Premiums Ranked by Cheapest Plan in 2021

State20172018201920202021Rank
Minnesota$442$380$333$312$2921
New Hampshire$267$475$402$405$3252
Rhode Island$261$311$336$332$3283
New Mexico$255$424$366$346$3294
Michigan$265$368$373$351$3355
Maryland$309$456$419$397$3396
Colorado$340$438$496$374$3517
Massachusetts$252$315$330$354$3558
Ohio$263$364$367$360$3589
New Jersey$339$411$348$389$36710
Washington$247$336$388$389$37411
District of Columbia$298$324$393$414$38412
Arkansas$302$364$380$365$38713
Nevada$303$431$412$379$38714
California$335$424$446$426$39715
Indiana$275$344$338$392$39816
North Dakota$334$309$396$333$41017
Texas$287$404$419$415$41018
Arizona$539$517$464$438$41119
Illinois$356$488$474$425$41320
Oregon$321$395$433$439$41821
Maine$378$575$531$499$43022
Wisconsin$359$524$519$478$43223
Montana$450$522$553$472$43424
Pennsylvania$369$526$457$440$44025
Georgia$320$489$457$438$44226
US average$357$472$466$451$44327
Kentucky$266$401$433$460$44428
Florida$336$476$485$472$44929
Tennessee$471$741$546$509$45130
Mississippi$332$520$521$484$45731
Missouri$369$520$491$479$46232
Utah$311$550$539$481$46333
Hawaii$347$456$503$471$46734
Kansas$362$485$528$486$46935
Virginia$318$524$558$517$47036
South Carolina$390$524$557$509$47137
Iowa$332$756$731$689$47438
Oklahoma$503$658$661$546$48539
North Carolina$540$618$611$543$48940
Louisiana$413$487$461$497$49241
Idaho$355$479$486$521$49442
Connecticut$436$541$472$565$51943
Delaware$423$591$685$548$52244
Alabama$468$556$544$551$55045
Vermont$492$505$517$662$57446
New York$454$498$566$591$57547
South Dakota$457$495$526$562$57548
Nebraska$474$757$747$676$57949
West Virginia$462$532$585$622$64150
Alaska$927$727$714$721$67451
Wyoming$501$861$860$877$78252

Source: "Marketplace Premiums and Participation in 2021." urban.org. (Accessed June 15, 2021)



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