LA Care offers the state’s cheapest Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and HMO plans. Oscar provides the cheapest option for EPOs, and Health Net has the most affordable PPO plan.
Several health insurance metal tiers are available in California, where HMO plans are the baseline plan type. Each tier contains plans with different premiums, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) costs.
If you are looking to balance monthly premiums with quality claims and coverage, MoneyGeek analyzed the best health insurance in California.
Most Affordable Health Insurance in California
Cheapest Health Insurance in California by Metal Tier
The Silver 70 HMO plan from LA Care is California’s cheapest Silver health insurance plan. More valuable tiers (like Platinum and Gold) provide more coverage but can also be expensive.
The following are the most affordable health insurance for different metal tiers:
- Platinum: LA Care Platinum 90 HMO ($394 per month)
- Gold: LA Care Gold 80 HMO ($346 per month)
- Silver: LA Care Silver 70 HMO ($331 per month)
- Bronze: LA Care Bronze 60 HMO ($271 per month)
- Catastrophic: Health Net Minimum Coverage Ambetter HMO ($188 per month for a 26-year-old)
More valuable metal tiers have lower maximum out-of-pocket costs but more expensive rates. As a result, you’ll spend less money from your funds when you do need medical care but will pay more monthly.
Metal tiers are groups of health insurance plans that determine the amount of coverage you receive. More valuable metal plans tend to have more expensive premiums but fewer out-of-pocket expenses — these plans are usually most beneficial for people with frequent medical expenses. Less valuable metal plans may be a better fit for younger individuals who don’t plan to receive much medical care. Overall, Silver plans have the best balance between premium and MOOP costs, making it a safe choice. Additionally, people with low income may qualify for lower deductibles for Silver plans.
Resource: Learn more about metal tiers.
Cheapest Silver Plans in California
The cheapest Silver plan in California is the Silver 70 HMO plan from LA Care. On average, it costs $331 per month. The most affordable Silver plans are the following:
- Silver 70 HMO from LA Care: $331 per month
- Silver 70 HMO from Anthem (Blue Cross Blue Shield): $364 per month
- Silver 70 HMO from Molina: $387 per month
Silver plans are ideal for most people because they balance relatively affordable premiums with relatively low MOOP expenses. Compared to other metal tiers, Silver plans have the fewest trade-offs associated with them, though it’s worth noting that their premiums can be much higher than those for Bronze plans.
HMO plans are the most accessible for residents of California. This is why MoneyGeek focuses its recommendations on Silver HMO plans in this section.
Cheapest Gold Plans in California
The Gold 80 HMO from LA Care is the cheapest Gold plan in California, with an average premium of $346 per month. The three most affordable Gold plans in the state are:
- Gold 80 HMO from LA Care: $346 per month
- Gold 80 HMO from Molina: $426 per month
- Gold 80 Ambetter HMO from Health Net: $472 per month
Monthly premiums for Gold plans tend to be expensive. However, they also have lower maximum out-of-pocket costs, meaning your insurance will cover more of your medical expenses when you seek health care services. If you don’t mind paying a little extra every month and expect to use your health insurance benefits somewhat frequently, a Gold plan could be a good fit for you.
Cheapest Bronze Plans in California
The Bronze 60 HMO from LA Care is the cheapest Bronze plan in California. It has an average premium of $271 per month. The most affordable Bronze plans in California are:
- Bronze 60 HMO from LA Care: $271 per month
- Bronze 60 Ambetter HMO from Health Net: $298 per month
- Bronze 60 HMO from Valley Health: $341 per month
Bronze plans are one of the most affordable options for health insurance in terms of monthly premiums. However, they can also have high maximum out-of-pocket costs. As a result, you might need to pay a significant amount of money for your medical needs before your insurance can kick in.
Cheapest Catastrophic Plans in California
In California, the most affordable Catastrophic plan is the Minimum Coverage Ambetter HMO from Health Net. It costs an average of $188 per month. The cheapest Catastrophic plans in California include:
- Minimum Coverage Ambetter HMO from Health Net: $188 per month
- Minimum Coverage HMO from Anthem (BCBS): $190 per month
- Minimum Coverage HMO from LA Care: $205 per month
Out of all the metal tiers, Catastrophic plans typically have the cheapest premiums but the highest deductibles. All three plans listed above have an average MOOP cost of $9,100. For this reason, Catastrophic plans aren’t ideal for those who need frequent health care. They’re better suited as financial protection for worst-case health scenarios.
Cheapest Platinum Plans in California
The Platinum 90 HMO plan from LA Care is the most affordable Platinum plan in California, with an average premium of $394 per month. The cheapest Platinum plans in California are:
- Platinum 90 HMO from LA Care: $394 per month
- Platinum 90 HMO from Molina: $478 per month
- Platinum 90 Premier HMO from SHARP Health Plan: $562 per month
Platinum is the most valuable metal tier, making it the most expensive choice for a health insurance plan. If you don’t mind the high premiums, you can benefit from the low MOOP costs of these plans — especially if you need frequent medical care.
If you qualify for a premium tax credit, you may also qualify for a cost-sharing reduction (CSR). Unlike premium tax credits, CSRs don’t reduce your premiums; instead, they lower things like your plan’s deductible, co-insurance and copays.
Cost-sharing plans may not be the cheapest option, but they can pay a larger portion of your medical expenses in case of treatment. You won’t have to think about paying a huge amount for health care when you need treatment, as your insurance can cover most of it.
Cheapest Health Insurance in California by Plan Type
The most common plan type in California is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, which is an affordable option for in-network health care. The exchange also offers other plan types, like Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) and Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). The cheapest Silver plans for other plan types are:
- EPO: Silver 70 EPO from Oscar ($558 per month)
- PPO: Silver 70 Ambetter PPO from Health Net ($531 per month)
EPO and PPO plans tend to have more flexibility than HMO plans. For instance, both EPO and PPO plans don’t require a referral before seeing a specialist. However, these plan types tend to be more expensive than HMOs, so you’ll have to consider how much you prioritize cost over flexibility. The best plan for you will depend on your needs and preferences.
There are three types of health insurance plans offered in California. HMOs are the most common, but EPO and PPO plans are also available.
- HMO plans are typically the cheapest but least flexible option. You’ll have to stay within a network of medical professionals and establishments and secure a referral before seeing a specialist.
- EPO plans also require you to stay within a network of providers — except in an emergency. With these plans, you won’t need a referral to see a specialist.
- PPO plans offer more flexibility than the other plan types, as PPO plans have a wider network of medical professionals, and you don’t need a referral to see a specialist. However, these plans tend to be expensive.
Cheapest Health Insurance in California by County
Keep in mind that the availability of health insurance plans can vary by location, and different counties may charge different rates for the plans that are available. MoneyGeek explored which plans were available in every California county, as well as the average cost of those plans. Use the table below to learn more about the Silver plans offered in your county.
Health Insurance Costs in California by Age and Metal Tier
Health insurance premiums can vary significantly depending on your plan’s metal tier. For example, the average cost for each metal tier for a 40-year-old in California is as follows:
- Catastrophic: $291 per month (for a 26-year-old)
- Bronze: $463 per month
- Silver: $516 per month
- Gold: $656 per month
- Platinum: $859 per month
Comparing these rates, it’s clear that more valuable metals have more expensive monthly premiums than less valuable metals. However, the best metal tier for you will depend on your needs and preferences since there’s often a trade-off between premium and MOOP costs. For instance, Platinum plans have significantly higher premiums than Bronze plans but much lower MOOP costs.
Keep in mind that your health insurance premiums will increase as you age. For example, the average cost of a Silver plan for a teen is $369 per month, whereas the same policy costs $400 for an adult and $1,096 for a senior.
What to Know About California Health Insurance
To find the cheapest health insurance in California, MoneyGeek gathered data for private health insurance plans and compared their rates. These plans are typically available during the open enrollment period and can accommodate individuals with a broad range of coverage needs.
Keep in mind that if you have a low income, you may also be eligible for Medicaid. Seniors and people with disabilities may qualify for Medicare. Both programs are more affordable than private health insurance options if you qualify.
Private Health Insurance in the California Marketplace
In general, you can purchase private health insurance in California only during the open enrollment period, which starts on November 1. It’s best to sign up for a plan before December 15 to have health insurance coverage beginning on January 1. The deadline for open enrollment is January 15.
If you don’t sign up for health care during the open enrollment period, a special enrollment period is available for qualified individuals. You can purchase a health insurance policy during this period if you’ve experienced a major qualifying life event, like having a baby, getting married or switching jobs.
Medicaid in California
Individuals with income 138% below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is a government-funded program that provides affordable health insurance in California. As a Medicaid expansion state, California residents only need to meet the income level requirements to be eligible for this form of health insurance. Once you qualify, you can receive health care coverage for free.
Medicare in California
You’re eligible for Medicare if you’re over 65, live with a qualifying disability or experience permanent kidney failure. Medicare comes in three parts:
- Part A (Hospital Insurance): This covers hospital stays, nursing care, hospice care and some home care.
- Part B (Medical Insurance): This covers the services of doctors and outpatient care. It also includes medical and preventive services.
- Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage): This covers expenses for prescription drugs, shots and vaccines.
California Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re looking for health insurance, you likely have questions about the availability and cost of coverage. MoneyGeek answered some of the most common questions people have while finding health care coverage to help you find the best plan for your needs.
About Mark Fitzpatrick