Despite COVID-19, Covered California Announces Record Low Rate Increase for 2021 Health Premiums – As Millions Lose Jobs, Income, and Coverage, Covered California More Crucial Than Ever

For immediate release: Tuesday, August 4, 2020

For more information contact:
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)


  • As a result of more people in the individual insurance market sharing the risk and cost of care, even those without a state subsidy will on average see a rate increase of less than 1%. Many could see decreases as well, and shopping around could lower premiums on average by 7%.
  • Most Covered California consumers will pay only a certain percentage of their income for coverage, including with new state subsidies for families up to $150K for a family of four, to protect against sticker shock of losing employer benefits.
  • While California’s ACA actions are working, more affordability assistance is needed–from Congress and the State Legislature–to help Californians keep coverage.

SACRAMENTO, CA – In good news for consumers, Covered California announced today that 2021 individual insurance premiums will see a minimal average rate increase of 0.6%, the lowest increase in the marketplace’s history. Covered California also announced that all 11 health insurance companies will return for 2021, and two will expand their coverage, giving 99.8% of California has at least two choices and most have 4 or more. Due to the ongoing pandemic, last week Covered California extended the deadline to enroll in coverage to August 31, 2020.

“This record low rate increase is a welcome relief for the millions of Californians losing not just jobs and income but their employer health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered California is a safety net for those without employer-based coverage, and the only place where low and middle income Californians can get state and federal subsidies to better afford individual health insurance,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Now is the time for Californians to revisit their health care plan options, and enroll in care with the possibility of getting a lower rate.”

“More people with health coverage not only helps individuals and families better plan for their financial future, but also helps stabilize the market, lowering costs for everyone. The results in Covered California show that increased enrollment helps result in lower health costs, and we should double-down on that effort, especially in this pandemic,” said Wright. “California has the greatest reduction in the uninsured of any other state, going from roughly 20% before the ACA to holding steady at 7%. This announcement shows that despite the Trump administration’s attempt to sabotage the ACA, California’s leadership on health care has made a real difference. We urge Congress and our California legislature to take additional steps to help people afford coverage as they consider COVID19 relief, to build on what is working. With millions losing not just jobs and income but also health coverage, we need to prevent the sticker shock of buying coverage unsubsidized by an employer, and bring down the cost of coverage and care further for Californians who need it more than ever.”

Families USA has estimated that nearly 690,000 Californians have lost their insurance coverage during the economic crisis. Covered California has seen a surge in new enrollment during the pandemic, with over 230,000 people signing up for coverage since March 20. This, along with the reinstatement of the individual mandate penalty, has meant more healthy Californians entering the market, sharing the risk and cost of care. The impact of COVID-19 for insurers has been offset by a decrease in elective procedures, but even as more Californians return to seek care, the market has proved stable enough to handle the changing impacts.

For those who has seen their income reduced significantly or entirely, Medi-Cal offers low to no-cost comprehensive health coverage and enrollment is open year round.

In the 2019-2020 state budget, greater affordability assistance has meant meant over a million Californians have access to greater subsidies this year. According to Health Access’ fact sheet, the state subsidies are helping those over 400% of the poverty level (around $50K for an individual and $100K for a family of four), who are ineligible for federal help, but is also improves the federal help for many who are under that threshold. Additionally, those Californians at or below the poverty line get their premiums reduced to nearly zero, helping those who fall through the cracks of Medi-Cal.

“We want consumers to be covered in case they need not just testing for COVID-19 but treatment, including hospitalizations and follow-up care,” said Wright. “California is leading the nation on the way to both build on the ACA, providing tangible financial help to families now, and to do the planning and take the steps to make health care a right for all”