Opinion

Preserving health coverage for millions of Californians requires all of us

Health care, image by janews

OPINION – Have you received a yellow envelope in the mail? Do you know someone who has? What’s inside that yellow envelope – and whether the recipient responds – could mean the difference between maintaining critical health care coverage or going without.

Across California, some of our most vulnerable neighbors remain unaware that they need to take action to keep their health care. This isn’t a small group: nearly 16 million Californians are enrolled in Medi-Cal, and about 75% of this group must submit the information requested in their renewal packet or they could be disenrolled – that’s a total of almost 12 million people.

It is time for all of us – neighbors, partners in government, and community advocates – to do everything we can to keep our friends and neighbors insured.

We applaud our partners in the State and in various County governments who have allocated resources to this effort. We also appreciate that they have implemented additional flexibilities to ensure the maximum number of eligible Californians can successfully retain their Medi-Cal benefits, or enjoy a warm hand-off to Covered California or employer provided health care.

Yet, there’s still more to do. We need all our elected representatives across California to join us in this effort. The anticipated disenrollment numbers are concerning enough to urge heightened action.

Elected leaders: if you haven’t already, we need you to join us in continuing the steady drumbeat of education around redetermination. In Los Angeles County, we’ve kicked off a year-long plan to raise awareness around redetermination, and we know other counties and organizations are also launching awareness campaigns of their own. We encourage our partners in government to consider what their offices can do – whether it means co-hosting an event to help people stay enrolled or spreading the word via social media.

Elected leaders: if you haven’t already, we need you to join us in continuing the steady drumbeat of education around redetermination.

75% of Medi-Cal recipients will need to respond to maintain their health coverage, and 25% will be automatically re-enrolled. One of the biggest challenges is that as those 75% wait, most of them do not know when to expect to receive their yellow envelope, and neither do their health plans. We should have the ability to at least let them know when to expect the mailing.

One change would be tremendously impactful right away: if the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) could share data on the beneficiaries’ renewal month with the health plans far enough in advance, we could alert recipients of when to be on the lookout for the yellow envelope. That would help health plans like ours reach millions of Californians.

For Californians who want to help, there are a few ways that you can support our efforts:

  • Ask your friends and neighbors if they’ve received a yellow envelope. If they have, tell them to send it in.
  • If you have received one, open it and respond as soon as possible.
  • If you haven’t received a yellow envelope yet, pay attention to your mail.
  • If your coverage is renewed automatically, your local Medi-Cal office will mail you a notice informing you of that.

Just as we have done many times before, Californians need to come together to make sure we’re all covered. To those who are still waiting, act promptly when your Medi-Cal paperwork arrives. Your health and the health of California depends on it.

John Baackes is CEO of L.A. Care, a health plan that provides health coverage for vulnerable residents of Los Angeles County

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