About 225,0000 Californians lost their free or low-cost health coverage as of July 1, in the first round a Medi-Cal renewal process that had been suspended since early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s approximately 21% of the over 1 million people who were due to reapply for coverage in June, according to preliminary numbers released by state health officials on Thursday.
Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income people, typically reviews enrollees’ eligibility every year. The state paused that process during the pandemic at the orders of the federal government, but resumed in the spring.
Less than 3% of the people who lost coverage no longer qualify for Medi-Cal because their household income now exceeds the program’s limits.
That means the majority of people were kicked off because they didn’t return a renewal packet and county Medi-Cal offices couldn’t verify an enrollee’s income. Cooper said the counties and state are trying to reach enrollees in multiple ways — email, mail and texts.
David Kane, a senior attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty, said it is concerning that tens of thousands of people could be without insurance even though they are eligible. They may have failed to respond for a number of reasons, such as not receiving the packet or not getting the packet in their language.
“I don’t think today’s preliminary numbers mean we can all sit back and think things are OK,” Kane said. “These disenrollments are not inevitable. The state, counties, advocates, and community groups together have the power to help more people keep their Medi-Cal.”