Individual and Family

What Are My Health Insurance Options in California?

Published on December 04, 2018


Residents of most states can use either the federal government marketplace, or a non-government marketplace like to apply for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance (also known as Obamacare). Regardless of where you purchase Obamacare policies, plan benefits and pricing will be identical.
In California, you can visit or at the state’s own health insurance marketplace,, to research and select ACA-compliant individual, family, and business health insurance policies. Covered California also provides a portal for Medi-Cal and qualified dental and vision coverage.

Who can buy Covered California health insurance?

To qualify for Obamacare or Covered California plans, California residents must:

  • Live in the U.S.
  • Be a legal U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Not be incarcerated

Who qualifies for help with Covered California premiums?

Several types of financial assistance that may dramatically reduce your cost are available with Covered California/ACA health insurance:

  • Premium assistance: Premium assistance in the form of income credits can be applied immediately to reduce your health insurance premiums.
  • Cost-sharing reductions: Purchasers with modest family incomes may qualify for reductions in deductibles for specific plans.
  • Medi-Cal: Your application process may alternatively qualify you or your family members for Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program.

Qualifying for financial assistance is determined primarily by how your family’s modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI, compares to guidelines presented in the Federal Poverty Level Chart. For example, you may qualify for a premium subsidy if your income is between one and four times the federal poverty level for a similar-sized household. In addition to income, the purchaser’s age, household size and zip code are used to determine premium costs and subsidies. Covered California also has special rules for children, the disabled, and pregnant women. To learn more about ACA subsidies, click here.

When and where to apply for Covered California health insurance

California will accept applications for 2019 from October 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019 through,, or any other broker or insurer in the state. The state’s Open Enrollment Period is longer than the federal open enrollment period available to citizens in most other states.  Medi-Cal applications are accepted at any time.
You may also apply for ACA plans at any time if you experience certain life events that will qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. These qualifying life events include:
Loss of health coverage

  • Losing existing health coverage, including job-based, individual, and student plans
  • Losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
  • Turning 26 and losing coverage through a parent’s plan

Changes in household

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a baby or adopting a child
  • Death in the family

Changes in residence

  • Moving to a different ZIP code or county
  • A student moving to or from the place they attend school
  • A seasonal worker moving to or from the place they both live and work
  • Moving to or from a shelter or other transitional housing

Other qualifying events

  • Changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for
  • Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe or status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen
  • Leaving incarceration (jail or prison)
  • AmeriCorps members starting or ending their service

You can browse previous articles on Covered California Open Enrollment to learn more about the Open Enrollment Period.

At eHealth, we can help with Covered California

eHealth offers the same plans and prices available at Covered California. We can help you apply for tax credits online and show you affordable alternatives that aren’t available through the official Covered California website. We also have a prescription drug tool that can help you identify a plan that offers the best prices for your medications. What’s more, our licensed agents are available to answer any questions you may have.
Get started today with our simple health insurance comparison and application tool.

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