I’m not sure what to do. I have no health insurance in California and I have a minor injury.

So I just turned 26 at the end of last year and lost the coverage that I had through my mother’s job. Right now I am currently uncovered. A few months ago I had a small accident and got stabbed in the thigh with a piece of glass. Because I didn’t have any insurance (and it wasn’t that bad of an injury), I cleaned and patched it myself. I thought I cleaned it out well, but apparently not. Some days it’s fine, but other days I get random surges of pain in my leg. Aches, sharp pains, and on bad days it hurts to walk and I need OTC painkillers. I was hoping that it would go away on its own, but I’m getting scared now.

Although I’m currently working at a small business, I have no future here and I’ve been struggling to find a good job with health insurance, especially considering that I can’t really stand up or walk for extended periods of time without pain. I’m not sure when I will be able to get a new job so I’ve been considering paying for health insurance out of my own pocket rather than looking for a job with benefits in the meantime.

I’m not sure where to start. My parents have always been covered through their jobs and trying to navigate this myself is incredibly overwhelming when I don’t understand anything. I don’t know where to look, whether or not I’m going to get ripped off, of I’ll be locked into some long contract that’s going to punish me later in life. I have no debts, and dealing with this is very intimidating.

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So.. I guess I have a few questions:

Where do I go to find California health insurance? Is there a statewide program?

What are the best options for a lower-income (< $25k/year) person with no dependants?

Say I were to get my own health insurance now, but eventually got a job with health insurance benefits. Would I be able to drop my insurance whenever I want and take on my job’s health insurance instead? Would there be fees and fines? Loopholes to jump through?

What should I be looking for? How do I know what is a good deal and what isn’t? Just look at what is cheapest?

I’ve heard that the state of California “punishes you” for not being covered while doing your taxes. How much of a fine is it?

What are the best options for someone in my position?

That’s all I really can think of for now. I’ve had a really bad day and it’s difficult to get my thoughts in order.

Any help is appreciated.