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State Waives Medi-Cal Premiums During Pandemic: Many Recipients Unaware


Monday, August 2, 2021   

SACRAMENTO, Calif - Hundreds of thousands of Medi-Cal recipients who experienced financial hardship during the pandemic are paying monthly premiums when they don't have to - presumably unaware that the state is waiving the monthly payments during the pandemic.

All people have to do is call the California Department of Healthcare Services and request a waiver. Fatima Clark, senior policy and outreach associate with the nonprofit Children Now, said families are leaving anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on the table.

"Our estimate is that about 40% of families who could be taking advantage of this program are not, today," said Clark.

A notice about the waiver and the number to call is on the invoices that recipients receive each month.

The waiver is expected to extend at least through the end of this year. What's more, people who've been making payments all this time can request that any payment made since March of 2020 be credited to their account and applied once the payments are required again.

Some Medi-Cal members who were impacted by natural disasters got automatic waivers, but they expired earlier this year, and those people now can apply for the regular waiver.

Clark said she's disappointed that the state didn't just waive the payments for everyone - and instead chose to make families jump through hoops.

"So families have to opt-in to receive the support," said Clark, "when the state could have very easily simply provided the support outright."

Medi-Cal provides health insurance to 14 million low-income Californians, including families with children, pregnant individuals and people with disabilities. Most do not pay any premiums but 750,000 do get an invoice once a month.

Disclosure: Children Now/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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