Catastrophic Health Insurance for Californians?
March 31, 2014 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Given my ADHD, there is nothing more fun than filling out any kind of form. I have gone through the Covered California website and at the point where I am supposed to choose a health plan. Only I can't. I can't find any catastrophic health insurance plans on Covered California or on

Have they just all disappeared now that I want one? Is my anxiety making me blind? (If so, kindly PM me.) I am an underemployed editor/writer who expects to net $1900 per month in the foreseeable future and all the plans are $500+ per month.

(My monthly apartment rent is $1645; my office rent $300 so yes, I understand that I need to get a day job but in the meantime, WTF?)

According to CC, I do not qualify for any discount or subsidy. The cherry on top? The link to appeal this decision is inactive. Thank you so much state implementation of ACA!

The silver lining is that I will owe the Feds a measly $171, according to, for remaining uninsured. Only I really, really, really want health insurance. Any suggestions?
posted by Bella Donna to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
NB: My knowledge comes from dealing with this in a not-California state.

Catastrophic does not count as comprehensive health care for the purposes of enrolling in ACA. I had catastropic for 8 months while between school and a job and got several warnings from eHealth saying I needed to enroll in a comprehensive plan. I'm guessing they may not provide them anymore because they do not qualify. I would strongly recommend going to an in-person enrollment center as soon as possible to work with someone regarding your income and what your state provides. Estimating your income optimistically can screw you over.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:42 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the excellent and, to me, in no way obvious advice. I will march over tomorrow.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:46 PM on March 31, 2014

You must be under 30 or qualify for exemptions to be able to get a catastrophic plan under the new laws (and to have it satisfy your requirements.)

What's your gross income? It seems strange that you don't qualify for subsidies, though I guess if your gross income is high compared to your net (because of self-employment taxes) that might be screwing you over here.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:47 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Be aware that if you underestimate your income, they will make adjustments and you will have to pay back the extra subsidies you received at the end of the year.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:50 PM on March 31, 2014

I'm pretty sure you should qualify for a hefty subsidy. When I ran the numbers on my situation, and input about the same monthly net that you've listed, my subsidy on a Platinum plan was something like 300 bucks (so, I'd pay only 200/mo for a primo plan here in Calif).
posted by nacho fries at 6:50 PM on March 31, 2014

and all the plans are $500+ per month.

I used both KFF's subsidy calculator (which is not terribly specific in this case but is fine for ballparking) and CoveredCalifornia and although I made up your age and ZIP code for, I do see many plans for way less than $500.

Screenshot of Bronze plans available at your income in my ZIP code as if you were 30 years old.
posted by rtha at 6:52 PM on March 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

The CoveredCA calculator asks for adjusted gross income, ("Eligibility for Medi-Cal and Covered California subsidies will be based on a household’s Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI). For most taxpayers, MAGI is the same as Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) which can be found on Line 4 on a Form 1040EZ, Line 21 on a Form 1040A, or Line 37 on a Form 1040.") and the OP listed a net income.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:59 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a certified Navigator who has been assisting folks with this kind of thing since October. I have seen the website give consumers weird results (such as not qualifying for a subsidy when they obviously do qualify based on the poverty guidelines). What worked in those cases was deleting the application and doing it all over again (just what you want to do-- fill out a form!) As I recall, anyone who had anything the slightest bit complicated about their taxes tended to get this kind of error (may have been a miscommunication with the IRS?)

On the other hand, it may be that since you're self-employed, the IRS didn't have the right info to tell the exchange website, and you need to send in some sort of proof of income.

For the time being, keep your eligibility determination on file, as this will help you get more time to sign up/appeal. When you go in tomorrow, maybe bring some tax records with you?

Good luck!
posted by Schielisque at 6:59 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

PS: I don't know your status, but if you're married filing separately, no subsidy for you :-(
posted by Schielisque at 7:22 PM on March 31, 2014

Also just FYI, since you are well into the process, you have until April 15th to finish up in California. Find yourself a navigator tomorrow to help sort things out.
posted by rockindata at 7:59 PM on March 31, 2014

I think you should double-check the pricing of the plans. You should easily be able to find a plan for well under $500 a month.
posted by Justinian at 12:43 AM on April 1, 2014

I agree that you should double check the pricing again. The websites seems to have a lot of glitches. For example, when a friend of mine was trying to sign up, for a while they were simultaneously saying that he made too much money to qualify for Medical and not enough money to qualify for one of the other plans.

What is your gross income?

I am in California too, and my net income is more than yours. I signed up for a plan very recently (a week or so ago). I also don't qualify for any credits or subsidies, and I was given options of plans from very low $200s and up, most in the $200s and $300s. The $200 plans were not catastrophic coverage only.
posted by treese at 9:51 AM on April 1, 2014

Hey folks, just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the advice you gave me and also the private message that offered help.

As it turns out, I fall into a small category of people who are frozen out of subsidies because we are married and have filed taxes separately from our spouses.

It's a known problem with the system, it hasn't been fixed in the two years since it's been pointed out, and it means that I am screwed, basically. Nobody's fault, just how it is.

After I get back from visiting my husband in Sweden, I will call and complain bitterly to various elected officials, etc. And hope like hell I don't have any accidents in the meantime, because as a US resident, I no longer qualify for medical care in Stockholm.

Thanks again!
posted by Bella Donna at 7:32 PM on May 1, 2014

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