Working families on Medi-Cal - the safety net works!


June 13, 2017

Children and their families do not expect to need Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California). The Medi-Cal safety net catches families who need help and prevents bankruptcy and crippling out-of-pocket health expenses. If the Senate passes the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the health care safety net for children will erode. The AHCA would cut $880 billion from Medicaid through a per capita cap. Medicaid serves children, children living in poverty, pregnant women, children and adults with disabilities, and the elderly. Working families often find Medi-Cal saves them from unintended financial instability and hardship. The AHCA will cut services for children and jeopardize the ability for states to care for families during hard times.

Chris and Hannah Odenyic

Chris is graduate student working on a Ph.D at UC Berkeley. His wife, Hannah is a teacher. They now have 4 children. Hannah's employer provided their insurance. Several years ago, Hannah unexpectedly lost her job while on maternity leave. At the time, UC Berkeley stopped covering the spouses and children of graduate students. (They have since restored benefits to graduate students and their families). Chris and Hannah found themselves unable to find insurance. Hannah said, "We have benefited a lot from Medi-Cal and are grateful that it exists to serve so many different people. I have made professional choices that I am very proud of, but it does mean that we don't have much money. Medi-Cal stepped in when my family needed it, and for that I am thankful." She used the Covered California website, and applied for Medi-Cal. She and her children qualified. They were able to keep the children's pediatrician. The children receive prevention and well-child check-ups without causing any financial difficulty.

Julia Bailey

Julia is a teacher and single mother of three children. Her ex-husband is a medical research scientist. His employer provides health insurance for the children as a result of their divorce settlement. He changed jobs and through an administrative error, he was unable to get health insurance for their children. Julia enrolled her children in Medi-Cal. Her children needed several emergency room and orthopedic visits, and a few follow-up visits with pediatric specialists. She was also able to access mental health services for her children during this time. Several months later, her ex-husband's employer held open enrollment, and he was able to put them on his insurance. The Medi-Cal safety net caught this single mother before she fell through the cracks and helped keep her financially stable.

Rob and Janis Connallon

Rob is an attorney and Janis works as child health policy advocate. They have two children. Following the end of Rob's clerkship after law school, he entered a difficult job market. He was unable to find a job for several years. They were unable to afford private insurance due to high deductibles and premiums. The children qualified for Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal covered trips to the emergency room, x-rays, casting, crutches, and mental health services. If Medi-Cal had not stepped in, these routine childhood medical expenses would have been enough to bankrupt their family. When Rob was hired, he was able to secure employer-based services for his family.