Californians Must Have Health Insurance This Year or Be Fined

March 16, 2020 Updated: March 16, 2020

According to a new California law, all tax households in the state will have to buy health insurance by March 31 or be fined.

Last June, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 78, stating that people would need to be enrolled in and maintain the minimum essential health care coverage for each month starting January 1, 2020.

“California residents must have qualifying health insurance coverage starting in 2020, obtain an exemption from the requirement to have coverage, or pay a penalty when they file their state tax return next year,” Denise Azimi, a spokesperson for the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), told The Epoch Times in an interview.

The FTB and the health insurance marketplace Covered California have been working together to ensure that people are aware of the new change.

For those unaware of the fine, the Special Enrollment Period grants people a grace period for the first four months.

Covered California’s website stated: “If you enroll by March 31, you will not incur a penalty. However, if you wait and enroll in April, you will have to pay the penalty for the entire period of the coverage gap, including the three-month short coverage gap period.”

Waiting until April to enroll in health care coverage can result in one third of the annual penalty amount if the individual isn’t exempt.

People who make less than $46,050 per year may be fined $695 for the year, according to the FTB website. A married couple making less than $92,100 per year may pay $1,390. A family of four with two adults and two children making less than $142,000 per year may pay $2,085. The penalty for a dependent child is half of an adult’s fine, or $347.50.

Examples of those who qualify for an exemption are those whose income is below the tax filing threshold, those whose health coverage exceeds 8.24 percent of household income for the 2020 taxable year, and those for whom families’ self-only coverage combined cost is unaffordable. The full list can be found on the FTB website.

“The message would be to secure the health coverage by March 31, effective April 1 to avoid the penalty,” said Azimi.

In February, Covered California reported a 41 percent increase in new signups due to the new California law. In 2019, there were 295,980 new enrollments. In 2020, there were 418,052.