Free care available to many more people under Medi-Cal


The Affordable Care Act expanded eligibility for Medi-Cal by millions of people in California alone. It could save patients a lot of trips to the emergency room.

Nora Vigil of Richmond is getting her blood sugar level checked. This sort of preventive care is something she might not have done in the past

"I couldn't afford it so this is really, you know, cause a lot of problems in the family because it's not just me, it's my, you know, my family. My husband, my kids and my grandson," said Vigil.

Vigil is one of an estimated two million new patients in the state who are now eligible for Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act.

Medi-Cal used to be limited to families with children who had incomes below the poverty level. For a family of four, that would be $23,050 or less. Now Medi-Cal has been expanded to include adults without children. A family of four would quality if it had an annual income of less than $32,500.

Brenda Shipp is Chief Operating Officer for LifeLong Medical Care which has 15 health clinics around the Bay Area.

"This is huge. This is really, really huge. I mean, because there are a lot of people who have not had any way of accessing care at all," said Shipp

Shipp says in the past people without health insurance were forced to go to much more expensive emergency rooms where by law everyone must be treated.

"So a lot of those people will now be eligible for some type of insurance to help them, mainly Medi-Cal," she said.

To determine your eligibility, you can go to a community health clinic or contact Covered California through their website or their hotline.

Those who don't qualify for Medi-Cal may qualify for subsidized health insurance through Covered California.

About 26 states including Texas and Florida have decided not to expand their Medicaid insurance programs.

The United States Supreme Court last year upheld the legality of the Affordable Care Act, but said the expansion of Medicaid was optional.

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