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Best Cheap Health Insurance in California 2022

Best Cheap Health Insurance in California 2022

The best cheap Silver health insurance plans in California are from Kaiser Permanente or Anthem Blue Cross.

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L.A. Care and Molina Healthcare have some of the cheapest rates, but their plans have limited availability. The Silver 70 HMO and the Silver 70 EPO are the most affordable Silver health insurance plans in California.

In California, you can also get cheap health insurance through Medicaid or the online state insurance exchange if your household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

Cheapest health insurance coverage by metal tier

The average cost of health insurance in California is $537 per month for a 40-year-old purchasing a Silver plan.

We researched and compared health plans offered on the Covered California marketplace to identify the most affordable health insurance option at each level of coverage.

Metal Tier
Cheapest Plan
Cost
Deductible
Out-of-Pocket Max
BronzeL.A. Care Bronze 60 HMO$250$6,300$8,200
SilverL.A. Care Silver 70 HMO$311$3,700$8,200
GoldL.A. Care Gold 80 HMO$326$0$8,200
PlatinumL.A. Care Platinum 90 HMO$369$0$4,500

Monthly cost for a 40-year-old

Marketplace health insurance may be available if you do not currently receive coverage through an employer or from the federal government.

For example, if you are self-employed and need health insurance, you may be able to purchase an individual plan through the health insurance marketplace. Keep in mind that an HMO plan is typically a great way to get a more affordable rate on coverage.

The higher tiers (Gold and Platinum) have the most expensive premiums along with the smallest deductibles, while lower tiers like Bronze and Silver — or even Catastrophic health insurance — have high deductibles but cheap monthly premiums. For example, the monthly rate for the Gold plan is 30% more expensive than the price of the Bronze plan.

Cheapest health insurance by age

A key factor for the price of health insurance is your age.

For example, for a Silver health plan, a 40-year-old in California will pay 28% more on average for the same coverage when compared to a 21-year-old. The jump in monthly cost grows even larger as you get older, with a 60-year-old paying, on average, 51% more than a 40-year-old for Silver tier coverage.

Cheapest health insurance companies in California

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How to find your best health insurance coverage in California

The best health insurance coverage for you will depend on the availability of plans in your county, as well as your medical and financial situation. For example, California has approved expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Therefore, anyone with a household income equal to or below 138% of the federal poverty level would likely be better served by Medicaid.

When evaluating plans and your needs, you should carefully review the premiums and deductibles for private health insurance to determine what's affordable. Typically, if you expect moderate to high medical costs, choosing a higher metal tier plan with more expensive premiums but better cost-sharing benefits would make more financial sense.

Gold and Platinum: Best if you expect high medical costs

Platinum and Gold are the highest tiers offered by the Covered California exchange, with health plans covering about 80% to 90% of your health care costs. These policies have the highest monthly premiums but come with the best benefits, including lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Because of this, Gold and Platinum plans can be the most cost-effective for those with higher medical bills, as you would reach the deductible quickly and then have access to coinsurance through your provider.

Silver: Best for people with low incomes or average medical costs

Silver health plans are middle-ground policies on the health insurance marketplace for premiums vs deductibles. A Silver plan will pay about 70% to 94% of your medical costs, which is why you'll see "Silver 70" as one of the standardized plan names in California.

We recommend a Silver plan for most people because these plans balance cost-sharing benefits with affordable monthly costs.

If you are very healthy and don't expect to need much medical care, a cheaper Bronze plan may be most cost-effective. On the other hand, if you know you will have high medical costs, then a Gold plan may be the better choice.

All health plans except Catastrophic offers premium tax credits, but Silver plans may provide cost-sharing reductions if your income is up to 250% of the federal poverty level. If you are eligible, then you can receive discounts on the plan's deductible, copayments and coinsurance.

Bronze: Best for young, healthy individuals

Bronze plans have the cheapest monthly rates but also the highest deductibles. These low-cost plans are best for people in excellent health who do not expect to have high medical costs during the year.

As with all ACA plans, Bronze plans offer free preventive care. However, the high deductibles that are usually $6,000 to $8,000 mean you'll have to pay for more of your medical care out of pocket before the plan's cost-sharing benefits begin. Typically, you'll only see the benefits kick in if you have a costly medical procedure.

Health insurance rate changes in the largest California counties

Health insurance rates are set by insurance providers and then provided to state regulators for approval. Therefore, it is vital to compare costs each year to find out how plans have changed.

For 2022, the cost of insurance remained fairly stable in the seven largest California counties. The biggest cost increase for 2022 compared to 2021, just 1%, occurred in Riverside and San Diego counties. In Alameda County, there was a 3% decrease in overall costs.

County
Change in 2022
2022 premium
2021 premium
2020 premium
2019 premium
Alameda-3%$588$605$606$548
Los Angeles-1%$433$438$451$424
Orange0%$453$455$471$430
Riverside1%$400$397$409$402
San Bernardino0%$431$430$438$402
San Diego1%$470$464$476$445
Santa Clara-2%$602$613$594$532

Monthly premiums are for a 40-year-old adult purchasing a Silver plan.

Short-term health insurance in California

Short-term health insurance plans are not available for purchase in California. In 2018, Senate Bill 910 was passed by California lawmakers, which effectively banned the sale and renewal of all temporary health policies starting Jan. 1, 2019.

Prior to this law, California had its own legislation that limited the term of short-term policies to 185 days. Often, short-term plans do not cover the essential benefits — such as maternity, mental health and prescription drugs — which is why lawmakers pushed for the ban on these types of health insurance products.

COBRA insurance in California

In California, COBRA insurance is available and required to be offered by employers. COBRA insurance allows for the continuation of group insurance benefits for a specified time if you were fired or quit your job. This insurance only allows for the extension of coverage if the employee and their dependents have experienced a qualifying life event.

Student health insurance in California

If you are a student, you can purchase individual health insurance through the Covered California portal. But students in California have other options for obtaining health insurance, including:

  • Stay on your parents' plan: You have the option to stay covered under your parents' health insurance policy until the age of 26.
  • School-sponsored plan: Some colleges offer their own health insurance plans, although they may not cover off-campus services, and you could lose your coverage if you become a part-time student or transfer schools.
  • Student health plan: These health insurance plans are designed for full-time students between the ages of 17 and 29. Policies can be purchased through the same insurance providers that offer marketplace coverage. Student health plans are paid through an annual or semiannual premium and can be a good option because they travel with you wherever you study in the U.S.

Health insurance companies in California

There are currently 12 insurers that sell individual health insurance plans on the Covered California marketplace:

  • Anthem Blue Cross
  • Blue California
  • Bright HealthCare
  • CCHP
  • Health Net
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • L.A. Care
  • Molina Healthcare
  • Oscar Health Plan
  • Sharp Health Plan
  • Valley Health
  • Western Health

The availability of insurers and health plans changes by county, so your location will directly impact your insurance plan options.

Cheapest Silver plan by county

Depending on where you live, you may pay different rates for a particular health insurance policy since prices are determined by county. To help you find your best-priced coverage, below we have provided a list of the cheapest Silver health insurance plans available in each county.

County
Cheapest plan
Issuer
Age 21
Age 40
Age 60
AlamedaSilver 70 HMOKaiser Permanente$404$516$706
AlpineSilver 70 HMOMolina Healthcare$266$341$639
AmadorSilver 70 EPOAnthem Blue Cross$410$525$645
ButteSilver 70 EPOAnthem Blue Cross$410$525$645
CalaverasSilver 70 EPOAnthem Blue Cross$410$525$645
Show All Rows

Monthly cost for the cheapest Silver plan.

Recap of the best cheap health insurance in California

  • Bronze: L.A. Care Bronze 60 HMO
  • Silver: L.A. Care Silver 70 HMO
  • Gold: L.A. Care Gold 80 HMO
  • Platinum: L.A. Care Platinum 90 HMO

Frequently asked questions

What is the average cost of health insurance in California?

The average cost of health insurance in California is $537 per month for a 40-year-old purchasing a Silver plan. However, rates may vary depending on your location, age and the plan's metal tier. For example, a 40-year-old would pay 28% more than a 21-year-old, and a 40-year-old could save $98 by choosing a Bronze plan.

Which company has the most affordable health insurance in California?

In California, the cheapest health insurance plans are through L.A. Care and Molina Healthcare. A Silver plan from L.A. Care averages $325 per month, and one from Molina averages $352. That's much cheaper than the statewide average of $537 for a Silver plan.

How do I get cheap health insurance in California?

The best way to find the cheapest health insurance in California is to compare policies from multiple health care providers. By getting quotes from several companies, you'll be able to understand which company has the most expensive rates and why. Finally, by evaluating what you need in a health plan, you will be able to select a policy that fits your needs at an affordable rate.

Methodology

Health insurance rates and plans were pulled from the Covered California state health insurance exchange. Using the premiums, averages were determined for a variety of variables such as metal tier, age and county. Our cost analysis excludes Catastrophic plans, also called minimum coverage plans.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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