Learn about Covered California and other marketplaces where you can buy California health insurance.
California was the first state in the union to create its own exchange for health insurance plans that complied with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). State officials opened the Covered California exchange for enrollment in October 2013 for health insurance plans with a start date of January 1, 2014.
At that time, the state announced that they expected to serve:
- About five million uninsured state residents who could qualify for Medi-Cal under Medicaid expansion
- About two million Californians who could receive assistance in paying for ACA health insurance plans
- Another two million California residents who would buy ACA health insurance but not qualify for assistance
What is Covered California today?
Today, Covered California provides an online marketplace where Californians can research, select, and apply for various individuals and business health insurance plans. ACA-compliant plans are also available to California residents on ehealthinsurance.com. Approximately 1.5 million people obtained health coverage through Covered California in 2018.
What Californians should know about their state health insurance marketplace
California will accept ACA-compliant health insurance applications for 2019 from October 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019 through CoveredCA.com, eHealth.com, 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.
Who qualifies for help with Covered California premiums?
Several types of financial assistance that may dramatically reduce your health insurance 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.
Applying for Covered California health insurance
In addition to the state marketplace, Californians can also apply for Covered California health insurance through a partner like eHealth. Residents who access eHealth will find plans and pricing identical to those available on the Covered California site.
Individuals, families and business owners can benefit by using eHealth for their health insurance needs. Here’s why:
- More choices — eHealth sells ACA plans you’ll find on federal and state marketplaces, as well as affordable alternatives that you might not have access to on other marketplaces.
- Convenience — Compare different companies and plan types all in one place.
- Free quotes — eHealth makes shopping for health insurance easier by giving you free quotes from plans in your area.
- Subsidy calculation – We’ll help you determine if you’re eligible for an Obamacare subsidy.
- Useful features – Our prescription drug tool can help you identify a plan that offers the best prices on your medications.
- Professional assistance – Our licensed agents are available to answer any questions you may have.