Do you have Medi-Cal? You, like millions of others, could lose it unless you re-enroll.
Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid, the United States’ federally funded free-to-low-cost health insurance. Historically, an enrollee must renew their application a year after their original registration; a missed deadline could boot them out of the system, leaving them uninsured.
But this year, public health experts say the potential for disenrollment is an even bigger issue: Some 152,000 San Franciscans — more than an eighth of the city’s population — are at risk of losing Medi-Cal, according to the city’s Human Services Agency.
Dr. Kim Rhoads, a University of California, San Francisco, epidemiologist and director of community engagement at the Helen Diller Family Cancer Center, said another 150,000 Alameda County residents may be affected.
Why? When health became a top issue amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Medicaid and its state offshoots saw record enrollments. This happened, in part, because Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allowed Medi-Cal recipients to automatically re-enroll, no effort required.
Add in people who switched to Medicaid after they lost their jobs, or those who registered with renewed health concerns, and enrollees from new states, and you get some 23 million more people enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program nationally, according to one figure from Kaiser Family Foundation.
What do you need to do?
- Be aware of when you need to re-enroll.
- People who have originally registered for Medi-Cal in June, and thus usually re-enroll in June of each year, are the first group of people at risk of losing coverage and are now eligible to re-enroll. If they do not enroll, they risk losing coverage on July 1, 2023.
- Enrollees cannot renew until two months before their benefits are eligible for renewal.
- For example, a person whose benefits expire on October, 1, 2023, must re-enroll by September, 2023. They can re-enroll starting July 1, 2023.
- Report important changes, especially if you moved
Has a life-changing event happened that may affect your Medi-Cal eligibility?
- Report it through MyBenefitsCalWIN, the state program facilitating Medi-Cal enrollment.
Have you moved or changed your contact information since March, 2020?
- Let your local social service agency know. This is important, because your local social service agency will send renewal forms to your current address.
For San Francisco residents: If you have moved since March, 2020, contact the San Francisco Human Services Agency by doing any of the following:
- Calling the Medi-Cal line at 415-558-4700
- Emailing SFMedi-Cal@sfgov.org
- Visiting HSA offices at 1440 Harrison St. or 1235 Mission St.
- Visiting the Human Services Agency website here
For Alameda County residents: If you have moved since March 2020, contact the Alameda County Social Services Agency by doing any of the following:
- Calling the Medi-Cal line at 510-263-2420 from Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to speak to a person, otherwise automated information will be available on the line.
- Visiting the SSA office at 24100 Amador St., Hayward, CA 94544.
- Visiting the Alameda County Social Services Agency website here.
Next steps for San Francisco residents
The San Francisco Human Services Agency, which is in charge of Medi-Cal enrollment locally, wants you to sit back and relax; the agency will determine and let you know if you need to re-enroll.
- Watch out for a mailed notice or a yellow envelope.
The San Francisco Human Services Agency will look at your information, and see if you are eligible to automatically re-enroll in Medi-Cal.
- If you are automatically re-enrolled, and do not need to fill out more information because HSA or the state already has it, you will be sent a notice in the mail confirming that.
- If you need to re-enroll, HSA will send you a packet with necessary documents you must fill out and resubmit to HSA. These will likely be in a big, 9-inch-by-12-inch yellow envelope. A due date will be included in the packet.
- If you have questions about the process or during the process, contact HSA using the options above.
What if you haven’t received a renewal packet?
- You might have already been automatically enrolled, and received a confirmation notice instead.
- It might not be your turn to re-enroll yet. Enrollees can only renew two months before their benefits are eligible for renewal. See the section “Be aware of when you need to enroll,” above.
- It’s possible HSA doesn’t have your address. Contact HSA to correct that information immediately.
Next steps for Alameda County residents
The Alameda County Social Services Agency will look at your information, and see if you are eligible to automatically re-enroll in Medi-Cal.
- Watch out for a mailed renewal packet.
- If you are automatically re-enrolled, and do not need to fill out more information because SSA or the state already has it.
- If you need to re-enroll, SSA will send you a packet with necessary documents you must fill out and resubmit to SSA. A due date of when to submit the forms will be included in the packet.
- If you have questions about the process or during the process, contact SSA using the options above.
To prove your eligibility for Medi-Cal, it’s likely the state agency will ask to provide certain documentation.
- Proof of income like recent payment stubs, a Social Security award letter, child support and alimony, unemployment/disability stubs, or veteran benefits
- Proof of residency like recent bills or mortgage payment receipts
- Resources like current bank statements, retirement accounts, or vehicle registration
- Proof of ID
FAQs for immigrants
- Are there translated materials available?
- Alameda County has translated information in Spanish.
- The state of California has Medi-Cal information translated in these twelve languages.
- Do I need to be a United States resident to access Medi-Cal?
- Is Medi-Cal or Medi-Caid, CalFresh, or other public benefits going to be used as a public charge?
- No. President Joe Biden reversed the rule, meaning immigrants who use these benefits are protected from the public charge rule.
- If I’m undocumented and have Medi-Cal already, can I re-enroll?
- Yes. If you are 26 or younger, or 50 and older, you can re-enroll in Medi-Cal benefits regardless of immigration status.
- If I enroll in Medi-Cal, will my children have to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces or military?
- No, you can enroll and your children will not automatically be enlisted in the military.