The Medi-Cal redetermination process has been paused during the COVID public health emergency. As a result, many more individuals have newly enrolled in Medi-Cal than disenrolled, increasing Medi-Cal enrollment by almost 2 million since the beginning of the pandemic. This blog post summarizes (1) the available estimates of the potential reduction in Medi-Cal enrollment once the PHE is unwound and redeterminations have been completed, and (2) the likely eligibility for and enrollment in private coverage among those losing Medi-Cal.
Research and Policy Assistant
Tynan Challenor is a research and policy assistant at the Labor Center. He contributes to the California Simulation of Insurance Markets microsimulation model (CalSIM), which models the impact of state and federal policy on health coverage. He also conducts research on health care affordability and provides research support to stakeholders including unions. He came to the Labor Center after completing a year-long fellowship in local government with the City of San Jose, where he worked on the connection between maternal, child, and adolescent well-being and gang violence. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biomedical informatics from Stanford University.
California has the opportunity to expand Medi-Cal to all low-income Californians, regardless of immigration status or age. This policy would result in a massive increase in coverage, bringing close to 700,000 undocumented Californians into coverage and reducing the uninsured rate for residents under 65 to just 7.1%, the biggest single improvement since implementation of the ACA.
The Threat to Coverage and Affordability Gains in Covered California if Congress Fails to Renew Subsidy Enhancements
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress enacted the American Rescue Plan of 2021 to provide additional temporary financial help for buying health insurance through the ACA Marketplaces. If these enhanced subsidies are not extended for 2023 and beyond, we project 220,000 fewer Californians would have individual market insurance in 2023 than if enhanced subsidies are extended, and premiums would be less affordable for more than two million individual market enrollees.
The American Rescue Plan substantially increases premium subsidies for coverage purchased through health insurance exchanges like Covered California. We project that these subsidies will help over 1.6 million Californians, including 151,000 individual market enrollees who will qualify for subsidies for the first time and 135,000 uninsured people who will become insured.
Even after the American Rescue Plan (ARP) substantially increases premium subsidies for health insurance coverage purchased through Covered California, large inequities remain in who has access to affordable coverage. Nearly 3.2 million Californians will remain uninsured in 2022, or about 9.5% of the population age 0-64, according to our projections. The highest uninsured rates will be among undocumented Californians (65%) and those eligible only for insurance through Covered California (28%).