A service of the California Health Care Foundation

Medi-Cal Enrollment Jumps to 11.3 Million

The state Medi-Cal system has taken on 2.7 million more Californians since October 2013.

That’s an increase of 31% from the 8.6 million previously enrolled. The jump brings the current number of Californians in the Medi-Cal program to 11.3 million — roughly 30% of the state’s population. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

Those numbers likely will drop somewhat, as the Medi-Cal renewal process finishes over the coming months. Many Californians will not renew their Medi-Cal benefits for a variety of reasons.

Covered California’s second open enrollment period Nov. 15 to Feb. 15 is expected to have an impact on Medi-Cal enrollment. During the first open enrollment period (Oct. 1, 2013 till Mar. 31, 2014), the state had its most dramatic increase in Medi-Cal enrollment, primarily because of Medi-Cal expansion.

State health officials have said there will be a bump up in Medi-Cal enrollment during the Covered California second enrollment period, but they don’t expect anything close to the rise during the first one.

At a state Senate Committee on Health hearing Oct. 30, Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas, laid out a few updated numbers:

  • 11.3 million residents now are enrolled in Medi-Cal, including an additional 2.7 million since October 2013;
  • About 18% of those 11.3 million Californians were newly eligible under Medi-Cal expansion;
  • About 5% of the 11.3 million were previously eligible for Medi-Cal;
  • Historically, Medi-Cal has had more children than adults, Douglas said, “but that has changed now,” he said, with adults representing 56% of the Medi-Cal population; and
  • Of the roughly 8.6 million Californians who were enrolled prior to October 2013, the state has been getting a “50% to 60%” renewal response rate, Douglas said, compared to roughly 70% in previous years. 

“The response rate has not been as good as we want,” Douglas said. He hopes to get that renewal response rate much closer to the 70% number from previous years.

If the state does hit that 70% renewal rate for the 8.6 million people who were on Medi-Cal before October 2013, that still would mean a drop of more than 2.5 million from the Medi-Cal total.

No one knows how much of a boost in enrollment will come from the Covered California open enrollment period, so it’s difficult to speculate on what the final number might be, after the current renewal process and the exchange’s enrollment period end.

Categories: Capitol Desk, Medi-Cal