How to Get Health Insurance in Los Angeles

If you’ve ever found navigating the U.S. health insurance marketplace difficult, you’re not alone. Determining what insurance is best—and even when to get it—depends upon a host of factors. Knowing which plan to choose, or whether lower-cost options are available, isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are great resources to help you better understand and access healthcare plans. Here are some of the things you need to know about obtaining health insurance in Los Angeles.

How to Sign Up for Health Insurance

When researching health insurance, you’ve probably come across the term “open enrollment,” which refers to the period between November 1st and January 31st. During this time, you can either purchase health insurance or change your plan. Typically, you’re not able to shop for plans at other times of the year. However, there are exceptions to this rule, including having a child or losing your current health insurance. These exceptions are known as qualifying life events, and you may be able to find a plan from Covered California during their special enrollment period. Crucially, Medi-Cal, California’s federal Medicaid program, is open for enrollment year-round.

Maintaining your health insurance is vital to ensuring that you have access to comprehensive care. With private insurance, this means paying a monthly fee, or premium, which can vary depending upon your income, provider, and plan. If you miss more than one monthly premium payment, you may lose your insurance coverage. However, many people who enroll in Medi-Cal can do so for free: There are no premiums, co-pays, or out-of-pocket costs.

Insurance Options in Los Angeles

One of the most common insurance options available to working residents of Los Angeles is employer-sponsored coverage, or insurance provided to you and your dependents through your job. When you enroll in employer-provided insurance, you’ll likely have options including group plans, COBRA, and health reimbursement or flexible spending accounts. 

Employers will typically cover a good portion of your premium (amount due) every month, leaving you responsible for the remainder. Depending upon the employer, you may receive health insurance coverage as a current employee and as a retiree.

What Is Medi-Cal and Do I Qualify?

Did you know that you may be able to receive health coverage at no cost no matter the time of year? With Medi-Cal, eligible California residents can sign up for low- or no-cost plans depending upon income, or whether you already use programs like CalFresh, SSI/SDP, CalWorks, refugee assistance, foster care, or adoption assistance. Additionally, you may receive free health insurance in California if you are over age 65, blind, disabled, under 21, or pregnant. 

Other circumstances may qualify you for health insurance in Los Angeles. In order to sign up, you can apply by mail, after downloading and filling out an application found on California’s Department of Health Care Services website; in person, by visiting your nearest county social services office; or online via Covered California’s website.

Covered California & Direct Coverage

 If you’re interested in finding a lower-cost healthcare plan, or think that you might qualify for one, Covered California can assist with buying health insurance in Los Angeles from well-known providers like Blue Shield, Anthem, and L.A. Care (Medi-Cal). If you purchase insurance from one of these providers via Covered California, you may qualify for a discount on a health plan based on income.

You may also connect directly with insurance providers by phone or online to review plans and see what’s available in your area. Note, though, that Covered California is the only service that offers financial help when buying an insurance plan. If you’re not certain whether you qualify, that’s okay. Covered California and Medi-Cal use the same application, so once you’ve applied you’ll find out which program you qualify for.

Where to Get Help in Los Angeles

If you still have questions, there are a number of excellent resources available. Human Health Project offers online patient advocacy workshops which include detailed information on insurance eligibility, along with signing up for and renewing your insurance. In addition, there’s vital follow-up support available—and no question is too small or insignificant. What’s more: Human Health Project also offers short video courses on its website designed to answer common questions like, “How Can I Find Credible Information Online?” and “What Do I Do If I Can’t Get a Diagnosis? And, there is a course on Health Insurance in the US” currently in the works. Whether you’re a patient or caregiver, or simply feeling overwhelmed or anxious, these videos are informative and empowering.

You may connect with a Licensed Insurance Agent or Certified Enroller on Covered California’s website, or visit the website for Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Social Services. Typically, healthcare insurance agents do not charge for their services. However, you’ll want to clarify this at the beginning of your conversation. Remember that brokers can be very helpful in understanding what your entitlements are and what insurance options are available.

We hope this information has been helpful. Good luck—and remember, Human Health Project is here for you.

Human Health Project (HHP) Programs

Human Health Project (HHP) Programs HHP is a comprehensive holistic health literacy charity. Explore our Shared Patient Information on health conditions like Migraine and Lupus, featuring Causes/Triggers, Treatments, outcomes, and side effects (more conditions being added). Dive into our Learning Academy's short patient education video courses covering topics like Your Rights as a Patient, How to Research Online as an ePatient, and Peer-led Patient Advocacy Workshops. Don't miss our upcoming and past Peer-to-Peer event videos.