How to Navigate the California Health Insurance Market in 2019

It’s easy enough to go online and find general tips on buying health insurance in the US. But if you’re a California resident, you probably want specific information regarding the health insurance market in the state. Here are some helpful tips that may clarify the state of the California health insurance market for 2019.

  1. One of the more important things you need to remember is you can always contact the California Department of Insurance for assistance. You can contact this agency at 1-800-927-4357 for answers to your questions or if you have a complaint.
  2. You can sign up for health insurance plans in the Covered California Marketplace from October 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019. If you have a qualifying life event such as you’ve lost coverage, just moved to a new house, have recently married, or had a baby, then you can enroll at any time. If you enroll by the 15th of the month, the coverage of your plan starts on the first day of the next month. If you enroll after the 15th of the month, then the coverage starts on the first day of the second month.
  3. It is very easy to get confused about all the available health plans, but you can get help for free. You can also call Covered California at (800) 300-1506 (TTY: [888] 889-4500).
  4. One of the helpful online tools you can use to compare various plans to one another is the Shop and Compare Tool. You will get a quick estimate of the price you can pay for insurance, based on your age, income, zip code, and household size.

This tool also allows you to view details of each plan, including the doctors included in the network of the plan. You can even see health plan details such as included pharmacies, urgent care centers, mental health providers, medical equipment, and alternative medicine.

  1. Once you’ve explored your options and compared plans, you can then apply for the plan you want. You’ll need to prepare your income information along with your ID and proof of residence. You should also prepare your social security number and your zip code. Once you’ve paid your bill (you can do this online), you’re covered on the first day of the official coverage.
  2. For 2019, there are no longer any ACA tax fines should you wish to drop coverage.
  3. Premiums for California’s health insurance exchange plans will be more expensive by almost 9% for 2019. This could have been worse, as nationally the prices for Silver plans (the most popular plans offered) will rise by an average of 15%.
  4. California lawmakers are studying ways to actually buttress and strengthen the ACA, even as the federal government tries to limit or even repeal the Affordable Care Act. Bills that are being considered include limiting the sale of short-term insurance. People may also be prevented from joining association health plans that do not have the strong consumer protections offered by ACA plans through the Covered California Marketplace.
  5. Covered California also allows you to apply for Medi-Cal, which is the state’s Medicaid program. You can apply online, call Medi-Cal to apply, or apply in person at your local human services agency. If you do qualify for Medi-Cal, you can then enjoy low-cost or even free health coverage for adults and children.
  6. You may also avail limited health services offered by your county, should you be ineligible for either Medi-Cal or a Covered California Health Plan.

Remember, you always have ready assistance available simply by calling the California Department of Insurance or Covered California. The assistance is free, and you’ll get a clearer understanding of how health insurance works in California when you make a call.

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