Covered California

Prepare Now for New State Individual Health Care Mandate, California Franchise Tax Board Says

Prepare Now for New State Individual Health Care Mandate, California Franchise Tax Board Says

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September 1, 2019 – The State of California is working to reduce the number of uninsured families with the adoption of a new state individual health care mandate.

Here are three things California residents need to know:

1. Make sure you have health coverage

The mandate, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, requires Californians to have qualifying health insurance coverage throughout the year.

Many people already have qualifying health insurance coverage, including employer-sponsored plans, coverage purchased through Covered California or directly from insurers, Medicare and most Medicaid plans.

Under the new mandate, those who fail to maintain qualifying health insurance coverage could face a financial penalty unless they qualify for an exemption.

Generally speaking, a taxpayer who fails to secure coverage will be subject to a penalty of $695 or more when they file their 2020 state income tax return in 2021. The penalty for a dependent child is half of what it would be for an adult.

To avoid a penalty, California residents need to have qualifying health insurance for themselves, their spouse or domestic partner, and their dependents for each month beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

The open enrollment period to sign up for health care coverage with Covered California is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2019 through Jan. 15, 2020.

2. Exemptions available

Most exemptions from the mandate will be claimed when filing 2020 state income tax returns in early 2021. Additional exemptions from the mandate will be granted through Covered California beginning in January 2020.

3. Financial assistance available

To help Californians meet the requirement to have insurance coverage, the state will provide financial assistance to qualifying individuals and families, dependent on their household size and income, through Covered California. This new state financial assistance will be in addition to federal financial assistance some already receive through Covered California.

Options for no- and low-cost coverage are also available through the Medi-Cal program.

To find out more about health insurance options and financial assistance, visit