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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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LA Care sells the cheapest health insurance in California, across all coverage tiers. If you live in northern California, Anthem is the cheapest company. Kaiser Permanente has the best and most popular health insurance, with consistently high ratings.

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?

The average cost of health insurance in California is $600 per month in 2024. That's for a 40-year-old with a Silver plan. 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 for health insurance as a 40-year-old, on average. That's because health insurance costs more as you 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.

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Where you live affects which health insurance companies are available and how much plans cost.

In San Diego County, Molina is the cheapest company for Silver plans. Aetna is the cheapest in Sacramento, and Anthem is the most affordable company across northern California and in San Francisco.


Finding your best health insurance coverage in California

The best health insurance coverage for you depends on how much medical care you expect to need.

Silver plans are the most popular because they balance affordable monthly costs with good coverage. 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 if you need expensive medical care

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 have a chronic illness or 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 if you need medical care often

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 if you have 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 if you're young and healthy

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 $21,000 per year as a single person or less than about $43,000 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 through 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 of medical care and high inflation levels.

Average monthly cost of health insurance in CA by tier

Tier
2023
2024
Change (2023 to 2024)
Bronze$470$52412%
Silver$541$60011%
Gold$632$71112%
Platinum$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.

Kaiser Permanente has the highest quality and satisfaction rating possible, according to Covered California.

In most of California, Kaiser isn't the cheapest option. But there are exceptions, and in places like Oakland and Santa Cruz, Kaiser Permanente is the most affordable company for a Silver plan.

Best health insurance companies in CA

Company
Cost
Kaiser Permanente logo
Kaiser Permanente
$523
Sharp Health Plan logo
Sharp Health Plan
$465
Aetna logo
Aetna
$498
BlueCross BlueShield  logo
Blue Shield
$689
L.A. Care logo
LA Care
$345
Show All Rows

Average monthly cost for a 40-year-old buying a Silver plan in CA. Ratings are based on editor reviews of the company.

Aetna is another well-rated health insurance company in California. It recently started selling plans on the California marketplace. And it's a good-quality option because it's cheap and gets very few complaints in California.


Cheapest health insurance plan by California county

LA Care offers the cheapest health insurance in California because of its very low rates in Los Angeles County, which is home to a quarter of California's population.

The cheapest health insurance plan depends on where you live. In San Diego County, the second largest county in California, Molina is the cheapest company for a Silver plan.

County
Cheapest Silver 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 and you don't 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, costing an average of $706 per month in California. That's 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.


Covered California: What is it, and who qualifies?

Covered California is the marketplace where you can shop for health insurance. It's California's version of HealthCare.gov.

Also called Obamacare plans, all marketplace plans provide the 10 essential health benefits required by the ACA, including covering prescriptions, pregnancy and mental health. And you won't pay more for a plan because of your health history.

In 2024, you'll get discounted health insurance on Covered California if you earn less than $58,320 as an individual or $120,000 as a family of four. Rates are on a sliding scale, so if you earn less, you'll pay less for health insurance.

Covered California income limits

Discounted monthly rates

Discounted medical care

Number of people
Min. income
Typical max. income
1$14,580$58,320
2$19,720$78,880
3$24,860$99,440
4$30,000$120,000
Show All Rows

These income limits show what you need to earn to qualify for subsidies called premium tax credits. Even if you earn more than the income limit, you may still qualify for subsidies if your insurance costs are very high.

Discounted monthly rates

Number of people
Min. income
Typical max. income
1$14,580$58,320
2$19,720$78,880
3$24,860$99,440
4$30,000$120,000
Show All Rows

These income limits show what you need to earn to qualify for subsidies called premium tax credits. Even if you earn more than the income limit, you may still qualify for subsidies if your insurance costs are very high.

Discounted medical care

Number of people
Min. income
Max. income
1$14,580$36,450
2$19,720$49,300
3$24,860$62,150
4$30,000$75,000
Show All Rows

These income limits show what you need to earn to qualify for cost-sharing reductions. To get the discount, you'll also need to choose a Silver health insurance plan on Covered California. You can combine discounts to save on both medical costs and the monthly cost of a plan.


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.

Is $200 a month expensive for health insurance in California?

Health insurance that costs $200 per month is a good deal in California. Silver plans typically cost $469 per month for a 21-year-old or $600 per month for a 40-year-old. The best way to get cheap rates is to use health insurance subsidies, which lower the cost of an insurance plan based on your income.

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 cheapest 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 other health insurance?

Yes, you can qualify for health insurance subsidies on Covered California if insurance through a job or family member is expensive or isn't at least as good as a Bronze plan on Covered California. A plan is considered expensive if it costs more than 8.39% of your income, per person. So if your household income is $50,000 per year, anyone in the family can qualify for subsidies if they would otherwise pay more than $349 per month for insurance.


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.

Information about plan quality in California is from HealthCare.gov, Covered California and the Annual Health Care Complaint Report to the California State Legislature. The cost of COBRA is based on KFF's employer health benefits survey.

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.