Covered California – The Health Insurance Marketplace

The Definition

The Health Insurance Marketplace is the health care “shopping mall” set up by the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or “Obamacare” where Americans can buy health insurance and receive government financial assistance.

The Marketplace, AKA “The Exchange”

Covered California

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, the term “health insurance exchange” became a lot more commonly known.  However, exchanges are not new. Health insurance exchanges have existed since the early 1980’s and have operated mostly in an employer/employee setting. They offered a convenient way for members to view their medical insurance options online, to select or change plans, and/or to access information about their health insurance benefits. 

To buy marketplace insurance plans, get California health insurance quotes and then apply. If you live outside of California, visit

The Federal Marketplace

In 2014, the ACA implemented its Federal health insurance exchange or “Federal Marketplace” located at It also allowed the individual states in the U.S. to create their own State Exchanges or Marketplaces. These exchanges are known as Health Care Reform Insurance Exchanges or Marketplaces. 

Affordable Health Care

At these State and Federal Marketplaces, not only can you find an easy way to shop for your health insurance, but it is the only place to receive (if you qualify) subsidized assistance from the government. This means cheap health insurance coverage for those who previously could not afford a health plan.  Financial assistance can come in the form of a tax credit to help reduce the cost of your health insurance, or it can come in the form of cost sharing reductions which lowers co-pays or deductibles. Some people qualify for a tax credit of $900 per month.  That’s a big savings to see on your health insurance bill!

Minimum Essential Coverage

Additionally, all State and Federal Marketplaces offer minimum essential coverage health insurance. This means you can be assured that the plans offered here, will meet the individual mandate to have health insurance so that you will not be subject to paying the Shared Responsibility Payment or Tax Penalty.


The ACA also enabled the Marketplaces that were created to process applications/coverage forms for Medicaid and other government programs.  This means that you can apply for a subsidized health insurance plan, Medicaid and similar programs, or both, all on one Marketplace application.  This offers the public convenience, especially for families where some members qualify for Medicaid while others qualify for a subsidized plan.

When you complete an application, you will receive an Application ID or a Case Number. This unique identifier can be used when communicating to the exchange regarding your plan, subsidies, etc.

Contact Phone Numbers for Obamacare Enrollment

For information related to quotes and applying for Obama Care California, call 1-877-752-4737 or click Covered California Website. If your residential address is outside of California, call 1-800-318-2596.

1095 Statement

Each year before tax time, you should receive your 1095-A, 1095-B or 1095-C notice. This statement lists which months during the previous calendar year that you were covered by a qualified health plan. If you were without medical insurance coverage less than 3 months, then you will not have to pay the health insurance penalty. Some groups, such as federally recognized Native Americans have an exemption from this penalty.

Quick Summary of the Health Insurance Marketplace

  • The Marketplace is an easy place to shop online, apply, and enroll for minimum essential coverage health insurance that helps you avoid the tax penalty.
  • You can view and compare benefits between plans and insurance carriers all in one place.
  • It is the only way you can receive the Premium Tax Credit if you qualify.
  • You can see if you or any family members qualify for Medicaid all on one application.

Not sure how Obamacare affects your health care plans in California? Learn how the ACA works in California, including benefits, costs and enrollment.

Covered California is the Golden State’s official health exchange marketplace where individuals, families and small businesses can find high-quality, low-cost California government health insurance.

Learn about Obamacare income guidelines in California using our income limits chart, and see if you’re eligible for government assistance.

Learn about the Covered California website. Find easy online enrollment. Set up your account, log in, buy insurance and more on the California health marketplace website.