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Obamacare Explained: A Guide for Californians

Produced by KQED News and The California Report

I Am Covered by Medi-Cal

At a Glance

  • Before the health law went into effect, many low-income people were not eligible for Medi-Cal. For example, adults who did not have children could not get Medi-Cal coverage.
  • Under the health law, California is expanding Medi-Cal so that more people will be covered.
  • You qualify if your income is less than about $16,243 for an individual or $33,465 for a family of four.


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Medi-Cal is the government health insurance program for people who are low-income or disabled. In the past Medi-Cal did not cover all poor people. For example, unless they were disabled, adults who did not have children were probably not eligible for Medi-Cal.

What the Health Law Does

The Affordable Care Act provides significant funding for a dramatic expansion of Medi-Cal. The program is called Medicaid in other states.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, anyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level became eligible for Medi-Cal.

In real dollars, that means individuals making up to about $16,243 a year or a family of four making up to about $33,465 a year are now eligible for the insurance.

In the Past, I've Found the Sign-Up Process Confusing. What Do I Do?

The Affordable Care Act mandates changes in the application process to simplify it and make it more streamlined. People can apply in person or by mail. Medi-Cal applicants may also apply at, the website of the state's new insurance marketplace.

The health law also created a new definition of income for Medi-Cal. It's called Modified Adjusted Gross Income, or MAGI. Your assets will no longer be used in determining whether you are eligible.

I'm on Medi-Cal Now. Do I Have to Do Anything to Keep My Coverage?

No. You will continue receiving benefits. You don't need to do anything new. But, just like you do now, you will need to continue to reapply periodically to maintain your benefits.

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