California will soon restart its annual eligibility review for people enrolled in Medi-Cal, a process that has been suspended since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means that starting in mid-April, residents enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for low-income people, will start to receive renewal notices in the mail. The process will be spread over 14 months. Some people may be automatically re-enrolled, but most people will have to fill out a renewal packet with information about their income and household size. People who no longer qualify or who fail to fill out the paperwork will lose their free or low-cost coverage.
State officials estimate that between 2 million and 3 million people could lose their Medi-Cal coverage. Ideally, people who no longer qualify for Medi-Cal will transition to a plan in the state’s insurance marketplace, Covered California, or to a job-sponsored health plan. Still, health advocates worry that many people could fall through the cracks or get caught in administrative hurdles and become uninsured, leaving them more likely to delay or forgo care altogether.
Currently, 15.4 million people — more than a third of the state’s population — are enrolled in Medi-Cal, the most ever, according to the California Department of Health Care Services. That’s partly a result of the increased need during the pandemic: As people lost jobs and wages, many also lost their medical insurance. From March 2020 to February 2023, Medi-Cal enrollment increased 16%, according to the department.