By Emily Bazar, CHCF Center for Health Reporting
About 5 million Californians have new health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both through the Covered California health insurance exchange and the expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program for low-income residents.
But millions of others remain uninsured – by circumstance or by choice.
Up to half of California’s uninsured population is made up of immigrants who are not in the country legally, and therefore are excluded from health insurance exchanges, tax credits and most Medi-Cal coverage. Others can’t afford coverage (even if it’s subsidized), choose not to buy insurance, or are unaware that they qualify for free or subsidized insurance.
No matter who they are or what their circumstances, they get sick, too.
Q: I’m uninsured but need medical care. What are my options?
A: It’s hard to pin down exactly how many Californians remain uninsured, but Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, believes there are roughly 3 million of you.
The good news is that more than a third of you are actually eligible for coverage, either Medi-Cal or subsidized insurance through Covered California, says Laurel Lucia, an ACA expert at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education.