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4 Important Changes to California Health Insurance in 2020

Some significant changes are coming to California health insurance next year. Read on to learn more about how these changes may affect your household.

Covered California Open Enrollment

Covered California open enrollment begins soon, starting October 15 and ending January 15. State lawmakers are deciding whether to extend the enrollment period to Jan. 31. In most states, open enrollment is from November 1 to December 15, but California has permanently adopted a three-month schedule for California open enrollment. Coverage purchased between October 15 and December 15 will be effective January 1, while coverage purchased between December 16 and January 15 will be effective February 1.

The state’s health insurance marketplace, Covered California, has selected 11 health insurance companies to provide the best health insurance California residents can choose from.

Health Insurance Companies Selected for 2020:

    1. Anthem Blue Cross of California
    2. Blue Shield of California
    3. Chinese Community Health Plan
    4. Health Net
    5. Kaiser Permanente
    6. L.A. Care Health Plan
    7. Molina Healthcare
    8. Oscar Health Plan of California
    9. Sharp Health Plan
    10. Valley Health Plan
    11. Western Health Advantage

Covered California is the only exchange in the country that only allows standardized plans.

What’s New for 2020?

  1. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, California will be the first state in the nation to provide a new subsidy program that will help lower health insurance costs for low and middle-income residents. Those who earn between 400% and 600% of the federal poverty line (FPL) will be eligible for premium tax credits. (see chart below).
  2. California is restoring the individual mandate penalty. Under Obamacare, there was a tax penalty for those who could afford insurance but didn’t have it. The penalty was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, but California lawmakers have chosen to reinstate the penalty. The money from the penalty will fund the new subsidy program.
  3. The new state initiatives resulted in premium decreases between 2 and 5% per carrier as health insurance providers reduced increases they added to premiums in 2019.
  4. Covered California announced that three health plans are expanding their coverage area.
    1. Anthem Blue Cross will now be available in the Central Coast, Los Angeles County, parts of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire.
    2. Blue Shield of California is expanding its HMO into parts of Tulare and Riverside counties.
    3. Chinese Community Plan will cover all of San Mateo County.


    Affordable Care Act 2020

    The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, reduced the nation’s uninsured rate. An estimated 20 million people gained health insurance coverage. California was one of the states whose health insurance coverage improved when the ACA passed in 2010. California expanded eligibility for Medicaid and established its health insurance marketplace, Covered California. By 2017, California reduced its uninsured rate by 14 percentage points, according to

    What Are The Tax Penalties for Not Having Insurance?

    $695 per adult ($347.50 per child) or 2.5% of annual income. Residents whose health insurance costs do not exceed a certain percentage of their income could face a penalty of up to nearly $2,100 per family, according to Covered California.

    Are There Any Exemptions From Paying The Tax Penalty?

    Yes. Individuals who aren’t required to file California income taxes don’t have to maintain minimum essential coverage (MEC).

    Additional exemptions may apply:

    • Individuals who obtain a hardship exemption from the exchange
    • Members of certain religious sects who obtain a religious-conscience certificate of exemption
    • Individuals enrolled in limited-scope coverage under Medi-Cal or other similar programs
    • Health care sharing ministry members
    • Incarcerated individuals
    • Non-US citizens or nationals who are not lawfully present in the US
    • Tribal members
    • Certain expatriates
    • Residents of another US state or US territory

    How Do I Know If I am Eligible For the Subsidy?

    You can apply through Covered California. The new state subsidies will only be available through Covered California. The amount of financial help residents receive will vary and depends on their age, annual household income, and the cost of healthcare in their area.

    According to, Covered California estimates that 922,000 people will be eligible for the state-based premium subsidies. The subsidy amounts will be larger for older residents and people living in areas where premiums are high, and smaller for younger residents and people living in areas where premiums are lower.

    How Do I Sign Up For California Health Insurance?

    Signing up for health insurance in California is easy and the friendly, helpful agents at Cost-U-Less can help you through every step of the process. Request a free California health insurance quote online or over the phone by calling 800-390-4071.

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