Covered California is a free service where Californians can shop for and compare quality health plans among a variety of brand-name insurance companies. It is the sole platform where individuals can receive financial assistance when purchasing health insurance from well established health insurance providers. By applying through Covered California, you may be eligible for discounted health plans or enrollment in the state’s Medi-Cal program. In either case, you will gain access to excellent healthcare coverage.
What is Covered California?
Covered California is the official name for California’s state-based health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It serves as a platform where individuals, families, and small businesses can compare and purchase health insurance plans. The marketplace provides access to subsidized health insurance plans for those who qualify based on income criteria. It also facilitates enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, for eligible individuals. Covered California aims to make affordable health insurance accessible to Californians, promoting transparency, competition, and choice in the health insurance market.
Covered California offers free, local, in-person enrollment help, online chat, and telephone assistance in 13 languages as well as for the hearing-impaired.
CoveredCA.com is sponsored by Covered California and the Department of Health Care Services.
Covered California Plans
Covered California offers four main levels of coverage: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The benefits offered within each level are the same no matter which insurance company is selected.
Here are the common Covered California plan categories:
- Minimum Coverage Plans: Designed for individuals under 30 these plans feature the most affordable premiums but come with higher deductibles. These plans primarily function as catastrophic coverage, offering protection against “worst-case scenarios” and providing essential health benefits.
- Bronze Plans: These plans usually have the lowest monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs when you receive healthcare services.
- Silver Plans: Offer a balance between monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. They may also be eligible for cost-sharing reductions for lower-income individuals and families.
- Gold Plans: Higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs compared to Bronze and Silver plans.
- Platinum Plans: Highest monthly premiums but offer the lowest out-of-pocket costs when you need healthcare services.
- Covered California for Small Business (CCSB) Plans: Health insurance plans for small businesses to offer employees.
- Preexisting health conditions cannot prevent someone from being covered.
- Young adults can be covered under their parents’ plan until the age of 26.
- All plans include free preventive care.
- Your plan cannot be canceled because you are sick or injured.
Covered California Income Limits Eligibility
Based on your annual household income, you may qualify for what’s called an Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) to help reduce your monthly premiums. Or you may qualify for low or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal. Financial helps and whether you qualify for Covered California or Medi-Cal programs depends on your income, based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The Covered California income limits require consumers to have a household income that ranges from 0% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in order to qualify for assistance on a government health insurance plan.
What You Need to Enroll
- Proof of current household income
- California ID or driver’s license for adults
- Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number, if you have one
- Birth date
- Home ZIP Code
- Proof of citizenship or satisfactory immigration status (e.g., U.S. passport, legal resident card, certificate of citizenship or naturalization document)
When is Open Enrollment for Covered California?
The standard open enrollment period for Covered California starts on November 1st and ends on January 31st of the following year. During this time, individuals and families can enroll in health insurance plans, make changes to their existing plans, or apply for subsidies.
For most qualifying life events such as getting married, having a baby, or losing other health coverage, your coverage will start on the first day of the following month after you select a plan.
Exact dates may vary slightly from year to year, so check the official Covered California website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information regarding open enrollment dates
Qualifying Life Events
- Had a baby or adopted a child
- Lost or will lose health coverage
- Newly qualifies for health insurance stipend (formerly “Newly qualifies for app-based driver stipend”)
- Victim of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment
- Got married or entered into domestic partnership
- Released from jail or prison
- Permanently moved to/within California
- Gained citizenship/lawful presence*
- Federally Recognized American Indian or Alaska Native
- Returned from active-duty military service
- Paid Penalty for Not Having Health Coverage
- Public Health Emergency
- State of Emergency: Impacted by winter storms
- Other Qualifying Life Event
* Moving between statuses (e.g., from LPR/green card to citizenship) does not qualify.
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Monique McArthur is a mother of two, writer, and creator of delicious recipes. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all that Orange County has to offer, traveling, shopping, running with her dogs and spending time with family.