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Best Cheap Health Insurance in California 2024

The LA Care Silver 70 HMO is the best cheap health insurance in California, with rates as low as $335 per month.

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The cheapest Silver health insurance plan in California is the LA Care Silver 70 HMO. Silver plans offer a good balance between affordability and coverage, and they're a good option for most people. But LA Care sells the cheapest health insurance in California no matter what plan tier you select. That said, if you want a high-quality plan, Kaiser Permanente has the best ratings in the state.

A Silver plan costs an average of $600 per month for a 40-year-old in California.

Kaiser Permanente sells the best health insurance plans in California, with a perfect rating of five stars from HealthCare.gov.

How much does health insurance cost in California?

A 40-year-old with a Silver plan, which has a good balance of coverage and price, pays an average of $600 per month for health insurance in CA. Bronze plans usually have cheaper rates, but they also have less coverage. You'll pay more each month for higher-level plans like Gold and Platinum, but you will also pay less when you need medical care.

Cost of health insurance in California

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A 60-year-old in California pays over twice as much, on average, for a Silver plan compared to a 40-year-old. But your rate will likely be at least slightly different from the average rate for your age. Where you live within California, the plan type you choose and your specific coverage needs all impact how much you pay for Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance.


Cheapest health insurance in California

The LA Care Silver 70 HMO is the cheapest Silver health insurance plan in California. But no matter what level of coverage you are looking for, LA Care sells the cheapest health insurance. If budget is your primary concern, getting quotes from LA Care is a good idea.

Tier
Cheapest plan
Monthly cost
Bronze LA Care Bronze 60 HMO $282
Silver LA Care Silver 70 HMO $335
Gold LA Care Gold 80 HMO $361
Platinum LA Care Platinum 90 HMO $411

Monthly costs are for a 40-year-old.

But LA Care isn't available to everyone in California. The company only sells plans in and around Los Angeles. The county you live in affects what companies will be available to you.

If you don't have access to an LA Care policy, see if you can get a quote from Molina. Plans are more widely available and still relatively cheap. If neither company is an option, Anthem might be a good choice. Anthem, which is part of Blue Cross Blue Shield, is available to almost the entire population of California.


Finding your best health insurance coverage in California

The best health insurance gives you a balance between your monthly budget and how much medical care you need.

All marketplace plans provide the 10 essential health benefits required by the ACA. The level of coverage changes, though. Higher-tier plans cost more but let you pay less when you go to the doctor. Lower-tier plans cost less, but you have to pay for more of your medical care yourself.

If you don't go to the doctor often, a Bronze plan could be a good fit. But if you have complex medical needs, paying more for a Gold or Platinum plan could make sense.

Platinum: Best for high cost, complex medical needs

Platinum plans offer the highest level of coverage, which means they cover the biggest share of your medical bills. Plans cost an average of $935 per month for a 40-year-old, but they cover about 90% of your medical costs. If you need expensive treatments, these plans could save you money overall. Platinum plans in California don't have deductibles, which means you'll have coverage right away.

Gold: Best for serious medical needs

Gold plans are a step down from Platinum plans, but they still cover about 80% of your medical costs and don't have a deductible. The average cost for a Gold plan is $224 less per month than a Platinum plan. If you still want a high level of coverage but need a slightly less expensive plan, a Gold-level policy is a good option.

Silver: Best for average medical needs

Silver plans have a good balance of monthly rates and out-of-pocket costs, so they are good for most people who expect to need a moderate amount of health care. Silver plans cover between 70% and 94% of your medical costs. You have to meet a $5,400 deductible before your coverage kicks in, though, so it's a good idea to make sure you have the money to cover the full deductible in an emergency.

Bronze: Best for low medical needs

Bronze plans have the lowest rates, but you'll also pay the highest share of your medical costs. In California, the average deductible for a Bronze plan is about $6,620, and plans only cover about 60% of your medical bills. If you are generally healthy and don't need to see a doctor often, a Bronze plan can be a good way to save money on monthly rates but still have coverage for serious illnesses or injuries.

Catastrophic plans: Best for emergency situations

Catastrophic plans have the lowest monthly rates of any plan tier, but they also have high deductibles. These plans aren't designed to cover typical medical care and are instead used as a safety net if you have a major illness or injury. California restricts the sale of Catastrophic plans. You have to apply for an exemption from the state and get approval first. Then, you have to work directly with an insurance company to buy a plan.

Medi-Cal: Best if you have a low income

If you have a low income, you might qualify for Medi-Cal, which is California's Medicaid program. Eligibility depends on your income and household size. To qualify for Medi-Cal, you have to make less than about $20,000 per year as a single person or less than $41,000 as a family of four.

When you apply for a health insurance plan on the Covered California website, the system will review your eligibility for Medi-Cal and let you know if you qualify.

Even if Medi-Cal isn't an option, you might be able to get cheaper health insurance based on your income. You can make up to $58,320 in 2024 as a single person and qualify for lower rates called subsidies.


Are health insurance rates going up in CA?

Health insurance premiums are increasing in California. The cost for a Silver plan has increased by 11% in the past year. These price increases are likely caused by a combination of the increasing cost for medical care and high inflation levels.

Tier
2022
2023
2024
Change (2023 vs. 2024)
Bronze$439$470$52412%
Silver$537$541$60011%
Gold$616$632$71112%
Platinum$795$828$93513%

Monthly costs are for a 40-year-old.

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Best cheap health insurance companies in California

Kaiser Permanente is the best health insurance company in California.

HealthCare.gov gives Kaiser Permanente's policies the highest quality and satisfaction rating possible. But Kaiser Permanente's plans aren't the cheapest in the state. If you need a low-cost health insurance plan, get quotes from LA Care, Inland Empire or Molina.

Cheapest health insurance companies in CA

Company
Cost
L.A. Care logo
LA Care$345
Inland Empire Health Plan logo
Inland Empire$385
Molina logo
Molina$409
Sharp Health Plan logo
SHARP Health Plan$465
Aetna logo
Aetna$498
Show All Rows

Average monthly cost for a 40-year old buying a Silver plan in CA.

If you don't have access to LA Care, Molina might be a good cheap option. LA Care is available to about 31% of California's population, but over half of California residents have access to a Molina plan.


Cheapest health insurance plan by California county

The cheapest health insurance plan depends on where you live, because available companies and rates change by county. In Los Angeles, which is home to a quarter of California's population, LA Care sells the cheapest Silver plan. But in San Diego, the next-largest county, Molina is the cheapest option.

County
Cheapest plan
Monthly rate
AlamedaKaiser Silver 70 HMO$554
AlpineMolina Silver 70 HMO$390
AmadorAnthem Blue Cross Silver 70 EPO$615
ButteAnthem Blue Cross Silver 70 EPO$615
CalaverasAnthem Blue Cross Silver 70 EPO$615
Show All Rows

Cheapest Silver plan with rates for a 40-year-old


How can I lower my health insurance costs?

Even if you find a cheap health insurance plan, you might be able to lower the monthly rate. Tax credits, often called subsidies, are one of the best ways to save on health insurance if you aren't eligible for Medi-Cal or you lose Medi-Cal coverage.

  • Premium tax credits: People with low to moderate incomes may qualify for tax credits that lower the monthly cost of insurance based on income and family size. These discounts can be applied to any Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum plan in CA.
  • Cost-sharing reductions: This program reduces what you pay for medical care by lowering deductibles, copays and coinsurance. Eligibility is based on income and family size. Cost-sharing reductions are only for Silver plans but can be combined with a premium tax credit to save you even more money.

When you get quotes from the Covered California website, you'll answer questions about your income and family size. The site then calculates your potential savings.


Other health insurance in California

If you don't get health insurance from your job or want to buy from the marketplace, you might still have a few options.

COBRA plans are typically offered after you lose coverage through your job, but they can be expensive. Students may have access to their parents' coverage or a health plan sponsored by their school. You may be considering a short-term medical plan if you only need coverage for a few months, but this type of health insurance plan is banned in CA.

COBRA insurance

California requires employers to offer COBRA insurance if you lose your job. COBRA insurance lets you continue the health insurance you had through your employer for 18 months after you lose your job. In some cases, you might be allowed to have COBRA coverage for 36 months. You'll typically need to sign up for COBRA in the 60 days after ending your job.

COBRA can be expensive, because you're paying the full cost of your health insurance plan rather than splitting the cost with your employer. In most cases, it's cheaper to get a plan through Covered California, which is CA's Obamacare marketplace, where you could qualify for discounted rates based on your income.

Student health insurance

If you are a college student, you can get individual health insurance through Covered California. But you may have other options for getting health insurance.

  • Stay on your parents' plan: You have the option to stay covered under your parents' health insurance policy until you turn 26. This is typically the cheapest way for you to get health insurance.
  • Buy a student health plan: Some colleges offer their own health insurance plans, although they may not cover medical care you get off campus. And you could lose your coverage if you become a part-time student or transfer schools. Each student plan is different, so make sure you understand what is covered.

Short-term health insurance

Short-term health plans are not sold in California, but low-cost health insurance plans are available through the ACA marketplace, called Covered California.

In 2018, California lawmakers banned the sale and renewal of all temporary health policies. Short-term plans often do not cover essential benefits like maternity care, mental health treatment and prescription drugs.


Frequently asked questions

What is the best health insurance in California?

Kaiser Permanente is the highest-rated insurance company in California. A Silver plan from Kaiser Permanente costs an average of $523 per month, which is 13% lower than the state average. And customers tend to be highly satisfied with the customer service they get from Kaiser Permanente.

What is Obamacare called in California?

California's ACA program, also called Obamacare, is Covered California. From the Covered California website, you can buy a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum health insurance plan. You can also apply for Medi-Cal, which is California's Medicaid program.

What is the most affordable health insurance in California?

LA Care has the lowest health insurance rates in California across all plan tiers. The company's average rates are between $282 and $411 per month, depending on the level of coverage. The cheapest Silver plan in CA is the LA Care Silver 70 HMO, which costs as little as $335 per month, and is available in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

Am I eligible for Covered California subsidies if I can get health insurance through a parent or spouse?

Yes, recent changes to eligibility requirements have opened up Covered California health care subsidies to the spouses and family members of people who have workplace health coverage. If your family's health insurance costs 9% or more of your household income, you can receive subsidies, or premium tax credits, when you enroll in a health plan through the Covered California health care exchange.


Methodology

California’s 2024 health insurance plans, costs and ratings were pulled from the Covered California state health insurance exchange. Using the premiums, averages were determined for a variety of variables such as plan tier, age and county. The 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.