Californians Eligible, But Don’t Often Sign Up for Health Insurance

July 18, 2006

Approximately 43 percent of the reported 6.7 million California residents that qualify for government-sponsored health insurance aren’t signed up, according to statewide studies. Upon discovering this information, the Foundation for Health Coverage Education, following a review of numerous programs, has identified a list of little known facts about the public health insurance programs currently in place.

“It’s a shame that legislators put in thousands of hours creating public health coverage programs and yet many of the people in need don’t know about them,” said Phil Lebherz, founder of the nonprofit organization. “Once a bill is signed, the lawmakers move on to other necessary business and understandably, without a strong educational effort, the information about the new program doesn’t always get to the public.”

FHCE, which launched a California Uninsured Help Line in 2005, has comprised the following list of little known services and statistics about public health coverage in California.

1. A family of 4 can make up to $50,000 a year and still qualify for government sponsored comprehensive health insurance for their children at a cost of $5-10 a month per child.

2. A pregnant woman who can’t afford insurance can get comprehensive government sponsored coverage (not just maternity care) for herself and her baby before, during and after the birth of her child under the Aid to Infants and Mothers (AIM) program.

3. Of the 6.7 million uninsured, an estimated 2.9* million are eligible
for coverage but not enrolled.

4. Of the 6.7 million uninsured, an estimated 652,000* are temporarily
uninsured and are in between jobs, starting another job, or are
waiting for the 90-day period of time before their insurance begins at

5. Of the 6.7 million uninsured, an estimated 2.1 million* are people who do not consider health insurance a good investment and would rather pay as they go.

6. For laid-off employees who worry about their COBRA running out, HIPP is a continuation of this program at the state level to maintain the plan at the same cost.

7. For individuals unable to obtain private health insurance due to a medical condition, MRMIP is a state-funded program that will provide guaranteed continued coverage.

8. Of the 6.7 million uninsured, 69 percent are single and 62 percent are below the age of 40*.

9. Immigrants awaiting legal status are covered by the state in emergency situations, pregnancy-related care (pre-natal and delivery), kidney dialysis and treatment for breast and cervical cancer through restricted Medi-Cal.

10. Anyone who is self employed with as few as 2 employees can receive guaranteed small group health insurance regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, according to California law.

* California HealthCare Foundation, 2002

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