By Health Team
February 23, 2023
Updated May 5, 2023
Top image via iStock from PeopleImages
For over two decades, California has made tremendous progress toward getting all kids connected to health coverage, including a huge win in 2022 to eliminate Medi-Cal premiums for over 500,000 Californians and an expansion of Medi-Cal to include undocumented young adults ages 19-25 which took effect in 2020.
WHY CONTINUOUS HEALTH COVERAGE IS IMPORTANT
We know that kids with continuous health insurance, like Medi-Cal for Kids & Teens, have better health and economic outcomes. Since the onset of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in March 2020, important federal provisions have protected Californians from losing their Medi-Cal coverage. As a result, children’s Medi-Cal enrollment has grown by nine percent, and more than 56% of children are now covered by Medi-Cal, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. As champions for children’s health, we must work together to ensure all children can access the healthcare services they need.
MEDI-CAL COVERAGE COULD NOW BE AT RISK FOR THE MILLIONS OF KIDS AND FAMILIES WHO RELY ON IT
In April, the federal Medicaid protections officially came to an end and the state will need to assess eligibility for all 15 million Californians on Medi-Cal, including over 5.6 million children. An estimated 2 million or more children and adults could potentially lose coverage because they are no longer eligible, or they fail to renew their Medi-Cal coverage.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Perhaps you, someone you know, or someone you serve in your community relies on Medi-Cal to stay healthy. As a local, trusted organization in your community, you have the power to help us keep kids covered by letting families with Medi-Cal know the steps they’ll need to take to keep their coverage:
Families Can Update Their Medi-Cal Information Through Online Portals
Individuals can update contact information or complete renewals through online portals.
Covered California Portal
- Covered California is available statewide. Visit Covered California for more information about how to access your online account or call the service center at (800) 300-1506.
- BenefitsCal is phasing in statewide in 2023. Visit BenefitsCal for more information about how to access your online account.
My Benefits CalWIN portal
- My Benefits CalWIN is available in certain counties. Visit My Benefits CalWIN for more information about how to access your online account.
- Update contact information: The state is encouraging beneficiaries to contact their county office by mail, phone, in person, or online to update current contact information (name, mailing address, phone number, email address) and report any changes in family circumstances, such as a new baby.
- Look out for information about renewals: Starting in February 2023, some Medi-Cal members will begin receiving renewal forms in yellow envelopes.
- Respond right away: To avoid a gap in Medi-Cal coverage, members will need to submit any requested information by mail, phone, in person, or online (see box).
Families can visit KeepMediCalCoverage.org to sign up for email and text message alerts with updates about Medi-Cal renewals.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO FAMILIES: There have been reports nationwide of scammers contacting Medicaid members requesting a fee to help apply for or renew Medicaid (Medi-Cal in CA) coverage. Medi-Cal NEVER requires payment during the application or renewal process. If you suspect Medi-Cal fraud, report it here: https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/individuals/Pages/StopMedi-CalFraud.aspx
A great resource for families is the Health Consumer Alliance (888-804-3536 or www.healthconsumer.org), which can help you navigate the complexities of renewal, or contest a termination decision you think is unwarranted. In addition, many community clinics have navigators on-site who can help fill out forms and answer questions, and some health plans have set up local centers (e.g. in Los Angeles) to provide assistance to community members.
As part of its effort to keep kids covered, the state has created a number of resources for stakeholders, including messages and flyers, that can be shared widely at community centers, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and CalFresh offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, school nurse offices, school health centers, local county offices, afterschool programs, parent organizations, child care centers, and any other organizations working directly with Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
This blog post will be updated with new resources/materials as they become available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and share your experiences, including any barriers you’re facing at [email protected].