Although we say it when we talk about it, no one really wants cheap health insurance in California.
What we want is affordable, inexpensive, and low-cost. But we also want the best. And this is true for healthcare coverage, as well.
What many people in Sonoma County are looking for when it comes to healthcare coverage is truly affordable health insurance or, as we may call it, inexpensive health insurance. But the catch at times is that we also want our healthcare coverage to be from the best insurance companies.
So, is cheap health insurance in California even possible, and is it any good?
When it Comes to Health Insurance in Northern California, Affordability is Relative
In California, as in most of the country, you can purchase your own health insurance if you choose to. However, if you are working and are employed by someone else – as opposed to being self-employed or a business owner – you likely have healthcare insurance options offered to you.
In fact, according to information from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC),
Forty-five percent of all Californians have private health insurance through their employers, while another 9 percent directly purchase individual coverage, most often through Covered California, the state insurance marketplace under the ACA.
However, that figure of 45 percent is misleading as this includes all residents, young and old. The number of working adults, age 19 to 64, who have private coverage through employers is closer to 54 percent or two-thirds of working adults. Another 11 percent of those residents purchase their health insurance themselves directly.
In addition, Medicare, the federal program that serves seniors and the disabled, covers nearly 95 percent of Californians aged 65 and older and small numbers of disabled children and adults.
So, if you are in that roughly eleven percent of Californians who have bought your own insurance, or you are a part of the approximately 7 percent who have no insurance, where do you find cheap health insurance in California?
One Affordable Health Insurance Option from the Best Health Insurance Companies
A significant number of Californians and Sonoma County residents choose to purchase their own insurance through the state’s health exchange, known as Covered California.
So, what is Covered California? The website of Health for California explains it well here,
The Covered California Health Exchange is the government agency offering subsidized Obamacare plans for this state. The California Health Exchange was created to assist citizens and legal residents with applying for marketplace coverage in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). When the law was passed in 2010, each of the 50 states had to decide to either create a state-run health insurance exchange or offer enrollment through a federally-operated exchange. This state chose to create their own exchange and called it “Covered California.”
The upshot of Covered California as an option for inexpensive health insurance is that for those who qualify, numerous plans from several good providers can be purchased with reduced monthly premiums. A significantly subsidized premium can mean that an otherwise “average” cost health plan is relatively inexpensive.
At the time of this article’s posting, Open Enrollment for Covered California will begin on November 1, 2021, and continue until January 31, 2022.
Inexpensive Health Insurance Options from the Best Health Insurance Companies
There are several other options for those who do not qualify for reduced health insurance premiums or prefer to shop for coverage outside of the state exchange.
Keep in mind that different metal tiers categorize insurance plans in California: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The higher tiers have the most expensive premiums and the smallest deductibles, while lower tiers like Bronze and Silver have high deductibles but low monthly premiums.
Also, affordability is determined by age. If you’re between 55 and 65, for example, and earn more than $48,000 a year but less than, say, $60,000, your available options may not seem all that “affordable.”
As one article explains it,
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, 112% more than a 40-year-old for Silver-tier coverage.
The article notes that the average cost of health insurance in California in 2021 is $546 for a 40-year-old, but rates vary depending on the metal tier of health insurance and age. For example, the average cost of health insurance for 40-year-olds is 28 percent more expensive than that of 20-year-olds.
In general, Silver health plans are mid-range policies with regard to premiums and deductibles that are available in the health insurance marketplace. A Silver plan is best in most situations, but if you are very healthy and have little in the way of healthcare usage, Bronze may be the most cost-effective plan.
So, for an “average” 40-year-old customer looking to purchase affordable health insurance as an individual, the best bet is probably a Silver 70 HMO plan that would have these out-of-pocket costs, on average:
- Annual Deductible $4,000
- Annual Out-of-pocket maximum $8,200
- Monthly premium $325
More specifically, in Sonoma County, it appears that Kaiser Permanente’s Silver 70 HMO plan is the cheapest, with individual monthly premiums offered at these typical rates:
- Age 21: $399
- Age 40: $510
- Age 60: $1,084
Looking for Affordable Health Insurance? Look to J. C. Lewis Insurance to Help
J.C. Lewis Insurance is a local, family-owned firm that has been based in Sonoma County since our founding in 1979. Our team of expert brokers offer individual and family health insurance plans and provides small business owners health insurance plans only from the leading health insurance carriers that are licensed to do business in California.
As experienced, professional, and local insurance brokers, we are licensed and certified by each of these insurance carriers to offer coverage to individuals, families, and small group employers, in addition to offering Medicare supplement insurance and prescription drug plans for seniors.
When you’re shopping for vision, dental, or health insurance for your employees or for you and your family, you probably have several questions and concerns.
At J.C. Lewis Insurance Services, we welcome your questions about insurance coverage, and you can be confident that we will help you find the right solution.