MEDI-CAL: Enrollees Satisfied Overall, But Frustrated with Paperwork
Medi-Cal enrollees "overwhelmingly agree" that the state health insurance plan for the poor is a "good program" and covers "most of the medical services people need," according to the first-ever statewide survey of more than 2,400 current and former beneficiaries. Released today, the survey found that: 92% of respondents said Medi-Cal is a good program; 84% believed "Medi-Cal is worth the hassle because of what you get in return"; 84% said the program covers most-needed services; and 80% believed Medi-Cal "provides high-quality medical services." However, the survey also revealed "broad frustration" among enrollees, with 78% of those polled agreeing that the "amount of paperwork and documentation required to enroll in the program is too much." Also, minorities are "more likely to find Medi-Cal a difficult program to navigate and are less likely than Caucasian beneficiaries to obtain care at their preferred location." Seventy-eight percent of Asian beneficiaries, 69% of Spanish-speaking Latinos, 60% of English-speaking Latinos and 59% of blacks said the program is "too complicated and confusing." And while 72% of white beneficiaries can obtain care at their preferred location, only 60% of English-speaking Latinos, 53% of Asians, 52% of blacks and 46% of Spanish-speaking Latinos could do the same.
Mike Perry, vice president of Lake Snell Perry & Associates, which conducted the survey for the Medi-Cal Policy Institute of Oakland, said, "Medi-Cal is difficult to enroll in. Once enrolled, there are challenges to staying a part of the program, seeing doctors and getting the dental care you need." Ninety-one percent of beneficiaries agreed, noting that an easier enrollment process is key to improving the program. Seventy-two percent said improving the quality of care is very important, and 78% believed Medi-Cal should obtain more doctors. About 22% said dental care is the most needed improvement. California HealthCare Foundation President and CEO Mark Smith said that suggestions for improvement must "follow from the assumption that Medi-Cal recipients are health care consumers whose wants and needs deserve to be taken seriously." Among the report's recommendations: improve communication with beneficiaries so they understand what services are covered; improve dental coverage; help recipients get care at their preferred locations; simplify the enrollment process through a reduction of application paperwork and office response time; improve training for eligibility workers; and expand access to enrollment sites by offering new locations and extended hours (Medi-Cal Policy Institute Release, 3/29).