If you are currently uninsured or expect to make life changes in the coming year that will impact your insurance coverage, you should be aware of the new mandates that are coming for health insurance in California in 2020. These mandates may have a big impact on your plans.
There are three changes taking place, which were implemented by the state in order to increase the number of insured individuals. Take a minute to learn about the changes and how they may affect you.
1. Penalties Are Now Being Imposed on All California Residents Without Health Insurance
California has officially adopted regulations that require that all residents maintain minimum essential coverage beginning on January 1, 2020. This includes all individuals as well as their dependents.
Some examples of qualified minimum essential coverage include:
- Employer-sponsored group plans
- Individual plans that meet the Affordable Care Act (ACA) market requirements
- Government programs such as Medicare and some Medicaid plans
- Student health plans
- Covered California plans
Failure to obtain a qualified healthcare coverage option can result in fines of 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per adult ($347.50 per child), whichever is greater. The amount will be determined when an individual files 2020 state income taxes.
2. New Subsidy Program for Low and Middle-Income California Residents
Under the ACA, or Obamacare, individuals who earn less than 400% of the federal poverty line (FPL) qualify for a premium tax credit. A premium tax credit is a refundable credit that helps to pay for insurance premiums for qualified individuals and their families.
Through the new California program, additional subsidies will be provided to those who earn between 400% and 600% of the FPL, effective January 1, 2020. This means you may be eligible for a subsidy that you did not qualify for in the past. This program will be partially paid for by the new tax penalty program in order to help make health insurance more affordable to residents throughout the state.
3. Premium Increases of Less Than 1%
While health insurance premiums rise every year, the premiums on the health insurance exchange in California are only expected to increase by an average of .08% for 2020. This is the lowest increase since Obamacare plans became available in 2014.
What Do You Do If You Don’t Have Health Insurance?
Now that you know the changes that are coming, if you don’t have coverage you are likely wondering how you can research and obtain the best health insurance. California residents have access to Covered California, which is the state’s health insurance marketplace that was established under the Affordable Care Act. It is the only place to obtain federal assistance to help cover health care costs.
When Can I Obtain Coverage?
It is important to note that you cannot simply buy insurance at any time during the year, even if you plan to purchase coverage from a private provider. California residents must purchase coverage during the Covered California open enrollment period. Luckily, unlike many other states, California has a longer enrollment period, which runs for three-months beginning on October 15 and continuing until January 15.
There are a few exceptional life events that will qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period outside of open enrollment. Examples of these exceptions include:
- Loss of existing healthcare coverage
- Marriage or divorce
- Death in the family
- A new baby
- A move
While you may anticipate changes in your near future, take advantage of the current open enrollment period to research your options, discover any qualifying benefits and avoid penalties down the line.
If you live in California and need help purchasing health insurance, give us a call at 877-583-1475 or request a free California health insurance quote online. Our agents can determine if you qualify for low-cost or free health insurance.