Individual and Family

Everything You Need to Know About Open Enrollment in California

Published on January 28, 2020

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The California open enrollment period for the 2020 coverage year runs from November 1st 2019 through January 31st 2020 . It’s during this period of time that you can enroll in major medical health insurance coverage!

When can I enroll in health insurance in California?

Unless you experience a qualifying life event, you must enroll in major medical insurance during the California open enrollment period – which has now been permanently extended in the state of California.

If you experience a qualifying life event – such losing coverage through your job, giving birth, or moving outside of your coverage area – then you may qualify to enroll during a special enrollment period. These periods are typically a 60-day window where you may enroll in major medical health insurance. Keep in mind, that in order to qualify for a special enrollment period you must be able to prove you experienced a qualifying life event.

Qualifying Life Events for Obamacare

California’s open enrollment extension

California legislators have chosen to permanently extend the California open enrollment period for the state. The California open enrollment period runs annually starting November 1st through January 31st of the following year – for example, for coverage for the year 2020, you can enroll from November 1st 2019 through January 31st 2020.

California can permanently extend the open enrollment dates because it is a state that runs its own health insurance marketplace instead of using the federally run marketplace.

Other important changes to California health insurance

Not only have legislators chose to extend the California open enrollment period – making it just over twice as long as the federal open enrollment period – but they have made two other notable changes to health insurance in the state.

Firstly, California legislators have chosen to expand their subsidy program to include those making over 400% of the federal poverty line. In most states, in order to qualify for a government subsidy to help you pay for your health insurance you must have an income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line. However, California lawmakers have decided to expand this subsidy program to include those making between 401% and 600% of the FPL as well, which allows more individual and families to get help with paying for their health insurance coverage.

Secondly, California lawmakers have also reinstated the individual mandate tax. This means that if you live in the state of California and can afford health insurance coverage but choose to go uncovered, you may be subject to a fine. The tax penalty for those who go uninsured and are not exempt for paying the penalty, will face a fine of either $695 per adult ($347.50 per child) or 2.5% of their annual income, whichever amount is greater.

To learn more about important changes to California health insurance, you can read more in our detailed article on the subject.

Can I enroll in health insurance if I don’t experience a qualifying life event?

No, in order to enroll in major medical health insurance you must enroll during the California open enrollment period or during a special enrollment period. If you do not enroll in major medical insurance either during the open enrollment period or during a special enrollment period, you may be subject to the individual mandate tax penalty for the period of time you go uninsured in 2020.

Keep in mind that alternative kinds of coverage like short term health insurance will cover certain medical costs, but it will not protect you from fines for being uninsured. Only qualified health plans (adhering to details outlined in the Affordable Care Act) will help you avoid the individual mandate fine.  

How do I enroll in health insurance with eHealth?

Shopping, comparing, and enrolling in health insurance coverage is easy with the help of eHealth. eHealth not only has intuitive online tools that help you find coverage in your area that meets your coverage and budgetary needs, but eHealth’s licensed insurance agents are available to help you find the coverage you need for free!

To start shopping for insurance so that you can enroll by California’s January 31st deadline, enter your zip code below.

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