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California health insurance

A guide to finding affordable health insurance in the Golden State

california guide to health insurance

How healthy is living in California? The Land of Milk and Honey is ranked 22nd in the United Health Foundation's 2012 comparison of health status across the 50 states.

The good news:

  • California has a low infant mortality rate and a low percentage of babies born weighing less than 5½ pounds at birth.
  • The rates of smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle in California are all relatively low.

The bad news:

  • The percentage of Californian children in poverty is 24 percent.
  • Infectious disease is up dramatically, from 8.5 to 17.0 cases per 100,000 people.
  • About 20 percent of Californians lack health insurance.

California's best and worst category rankings:

  • Smoking – 2nd
  • Sedentary Lifestyle – 3rd
  • Occupational Fatalities – 3rd
  • Infant Mortality – 3rd
  • Lack of Health Insurance – 44th
  • Infectious Disease – 46th
  • Air Pollution – 50th

For more details see the United Health Foundation’s latest findings on California.

Trust for America’s Health is another source for key California health quality findings.

In addition, 2010’s federal health reform, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), included the creation of a prevention fund to provide more than $16 billion over the next 10 years to invest in effective, proven prevention efforts, like childhood obesity prevention and tobacco cessation, and the site has a report on how it impacts California here.

Get local health results

State snapshot too large? Get county-by-county health rankings for California, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

Does California have
a health insurance high risk pool?

California Major Risk Medical Insurance Program
Toll-free 1-800-289-6574 or (916) 324-4695

IMPORTANT UPDATE: In 2010, California started offering health care insurance coverage to residents through the federally established temporary high-risk pool program. Learn about eligibility here.

Rapidly becoming obsolete as state health insurance exchanges prepare to open, risk pools were state-sponsored programs that helped people who could afford to buy health insurance, but were not able to get underwritten in the private market because of a pre-existing health condition.

Programs varied significantly from state to state in price, benefits and number of people served. Often insurance companies doing business in the state were required to contribute to the pool to keep it in the black.

In the best cases, they allowed people to be able to switch jobs or become self-employed without the fear of losing their health insurance coverage. Read more about risk pools here.

More California resources

California state health insurance exchange

California’s exchange

Find out what your state’s health insurance exchange will look like.


$74 million to 1,877,186 families

Insurance companies were forced to return an average of $65 per California family in 2012.


Find out how your member of the California Congressional delegation voted on health care.

CA state government resources

California Department of Health Care Services

Responsible for health care services for…

California Health Care Reform

How the state government will implement provisions of the Affordable Care…

California State Department of Insurance

The California State Department of Insurance deals with issues of individual health insurance in California, as well as other types of…

Consumer Information from the California State Department of Insurance

Health insurance topics and information geared specially for…

Medicare information from California State Department of Aging

State government resources for Californians needing help with Medicare and other government health insurance programs on federal, state and local…

Office of Multicultural Health, California State Department of Health Services

The state agency which tries to reduce inequality in health status, information and resources on multicultural…

CA advocacy resources

California HealthCare Foundation

The foundation is an independent philanthropy committed to improving California’s health care delivery and financing systems and to ensure that all Californians have access to affordable, quality health…

California Nurses Association — is a project of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and patients and community groups around the…

California One Care

California OneCare is an online organizing network that exists to activate and empower people into a grassroots and netroots movement for universal health care in…

Health Access California

Health Access California is a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving quality, affordable health care for all Californians. For more than 15 years, Health Access has played a significant role in leading the movement for health care reform in…

Health Care for All — California

HCA is a nonprofit grassroots organization working for high quality, universal, single-payer health…

Single Payer Now

Volunteers educating voters since 1994 to talk with their friends, co-workers, and neighbors about health care minus the insurance…

Other CA health insurance links

California Association of Health Plans

The Association promotes affordable health care for California consumers through legislative advocacy, informational communications and collaboration with other…

California health insurance companies

AARP Insured By Aetna
Anthem Blue Cross
Blue Shield of CA

Celtic Ins. Co.
Health Net
Kaiser Permanente of CA

NOTE: Kaiser Permanente of CA is a non-profit company.

Health insurance for CA individuals

Resources for those individuals seeking health care insurance in California. If you are looking for California Medicare, visit our site for health insurance over 65.