By now most have heard of the medical health insurance program, the Affordable Care Act. The new program, beginning in 2014, requires most citizens and legal residents to have health insurance.
The state will provide subsidized programs to cover people who don’t have coverage, cannot get insurance through their job, or have been turned down because of a pre-existing medical condition. The Act provides sliding scale financial help (through programs called Exchanges) so most Americans can get quality health coverage at a fair price. Individuals who earn up to $45,960 and families of four that earn up to $94,200 per year may qualify. More information is available at www.CoveredCA.com.
For those that cannot afford a subsidized program, the state has expanded the Medi-Cal program. Many people who were not previously eligible may now qualify. For example, an individual making up to $15,856 per year or a family of four with an income of up to $32,499 per year, may now qualify for benefits.
The Department of Human Assistance (DHA) is handling Medi-Cal enrollment for Sacramento County residents. One of the department’s goals is to move people who are currently on the County Medically Indigent Services Program, (the last resort health care program for low income adults) into Medi-Cal because costs will be picked up by the federal government. This transfer could save the County millions of local dollars that it can use for other vital services.
“It’s imperative that we get every qualified resident enrolled in Medi-Cal,” said Paul Lake, Director of Human Assistance.
The Department is reaching out to the newly eligible including working families, individuals, and people who have been turned down for coverage in the past. They are also preparing to answer questions about Medi-Cal and the Covered California Exchange and how to route people to the right resource. Preparations have been underway for nearly a year for the enrollment period that starts October 1 for coverage that begins January 1.
• DHA has hired and trained staff to evaluate health care eligibility and to connect individuals and families with affordable health care options.
• Staff has received hours of training, learning the new rules and policies, and the process for serving new populations.
• Workers will work with new enrollees as well as current Medi-Cal cases and other health programs, as well as CalWORKs and CalFresh.
“We will provide the highest-quality customer service to anyone coming through our offices for information or service regardless of whether they are inquiring about the state programs or County assistance,” Lake added. “We want to get them the coverage they need and the benefits for which they are qualified.”
Open Enrollment for programs runs October 2013 through March 2014 and implementation begins January 2014.