California Open Enrollment 2020 – Key Dates and FAQs

Why is the California open enrollment period for 2020 so vital to remember? California’s balmy weather and geographical beauty can lull us into a false sense of picture-perfect health. But even amid goodness, life is full of unexpected illness and injury.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment for 2020 starts soon. Here are the key dates you need to know, as well as the frequently asked questions we hear for California.

Dates of California ACA (Obamacare) open enrollment 2020

The national ACA open enrollment dates for 2020 are November 1, 2019-December 15, 2020. However, California (along with Colorado) is one of two states that have a permanently extended open enrollment period. California’s extension pushes enrollment to January 15, 2020.  This extension allows you to choose the right ACA plan.

The ACA evolves and changes every year. California residents should research the benefits of purchasing ACA healthcare.

Will I be penalized if I don’t have health insurance?

The short answer is “no.” In 2017, Congress repealed the shared responsibility penalty through the Tax Reconciliation Act. Until 2018, a lack of health insurance could incur individual tax penalties. However, as of 2019, individuals sans health insurance no longer face monetary fines.  

What if I miss the California open enrollment?

The federal government does not publicize ACA open enrollment dates for 2020, but you can quickly find these dates on the internet. Open enrollment dates fall within the same general period each year. Typically, November 1-December 15, is the ACA open enrollment period.

What happens if you miss the ACA open enrollment 2020 period in California?  Unfortunately, if the ACA open enrollment for 2020 closes in California before you sign up, you will not be able to sign-up for an ACA plan until open enrollment 2021. However, if you experience a life change such as getting married or having a baby, you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Can I save any money in ACA open enrollment 2020?

If you don’t have healthcare via a California group health insurance coverage from your employer or through Medicare or Medicaid, then you need to purchase health insurance. As a California resident, you may qualify for healthcare subsidies that help with premium costs.  

Healthcare subsidies are forms of financial assistance offered by the US federal government. Subsidies are in place to help people with individual healthcare plans. The two subsidies provided through the ACA are the Advanced Premium Tax Credit and Cost-Sharing Reduction.  

As the 2020 ACA open enrollment for California approaches, find out if you qualify for subsidies. The Advanced Premium Tax Credit or APCT is a tax credit taken in advance of the tax year to lower an individual health premium. Cost-Sharing Reduction or CSR reduces deductibles and copayments and is based on yearly income. Although the CSR is no longer available through federal funding, it is available through insurers via the ACA silver plan premiums.   

How can I qualify for healthcare subsidies?

The California open enrollment lasts through mid-January 2020, but you should understand subsidies pre-enrollment.  If you have previously declined to purchase health insurance based on your budget, there are still options for you. These subsidies are in place to help you find an affordable individual plan.    

The APTC is based on yearly salary and designed as assistance for individuals or families with low income.  The lower your income, the larger the tax credit to help cover insurance costs. According to the IRS, “your household income must be at least 100%–but no more than 400% of the federal poverty line for your family size.”

After completing California’s ACA open enrollment for 2020, you may choose to have APTC payments made to your insurance provider. Or, if you can pay your monthly premium, and do not need further healthcare costs by the end of 2020, you can get the entire benefit with your yearly tax return.

The CSR is not federally funded. However, most CA Obamacare insurers include the CSR in their silver plan premiums. If you are in a profession with fluctuating income, a silver health plan with built-in CSR is helpful. You’ll pay a higher premium as your income rises but receive credit if your income declines.

Is Signing Up for Obamacare Easy?

In a word, “yes!”  Here are some simple ways to sign-up for a health insurance plan under the ACA (Obamacare) for 2020: 

  • Online at Covered California
  • Over the phone with an ACA representative
  • In-person with a certified health insurance broker or ACA specialist
  • Re-enroll via your existing 2019 ACA health plan
  • Mail-in an application to the California State Health Exchange


The ACA California open enrollment for 2020 ends on January 15, 2020. But, there are a  variety of ways to find an ACA (Obamacare) plan that fits your budget. And, enrollment is simple! This holiday season, rest easier. Give yourself the gift of health insurance.

Click here for even more info on the ACA for CA

Looking for Group Health Insurance in California?

Are you a California business owner that offers health insurance to your employees?  The end of the year is a great time to review your employer’s health insurance plan to see if you can save money or improve benefits. Below are a few of our most popular blog articles on the topic of small business health insurance plans.

Five Profitable Benefits to Implementing a Small Business Wellness Program

Can Businesses Reimburse their Staff for Employee Health Insurance?

The Top California Small Business Health Insurance FAQs of 2019

What is the Average Company Contribution to Employee Health Insurance?