Minimum Coverage Plans

If you are younger than 30, you may be able to buy an additional health insurance plan option called a minimum coverage plan, also known as catastrophic coverage. These plans usually have lower premiums and mostly protect you from worst-case scenarios. Those who have minimum coverage plans do not qualify to receive premium assistance. Minimum coverage plans through Covered California cover three doctor visits or urgent care visits, including outpatient mental health/substance use visits, with no out-of-pocket costs, and free preventive benefits. All other services will be full price but at the negotiated in-network price, until you spend $9,450, after which all in-network services are covered at 100 percent.

Consumers age 30 or older can buy catastrophic coverage if they apply for an affordability or general hardship exemption through Covered California and are approved. If approved, these consumers will get an Exemption Certificate Number (ECN) and may buy a catastrophic plan directly from an insurance company.

If you are seeking an exemption to buy a catastrophic plan, consider buying a Bronze plan instead. There are many reasons that a Bronze plan could be a better choice:  

  • The premium (monthly cost) of Bronze plans and catastrophic plans are often similar.
  • Your deductible (the amount you pay before your insurance begins to pay) is usually lower on a Bronze plan.
  • You may qualify for financial help to reduce the cost of a Bronze plan (financial help is not available for catastrophic plans). 
  • You don’t have to apply for an exemption – people of all ages can buy a Bronze plan.

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