David Gorn, California Healthline
The Department of Health Care Services released enrollment numbers last week for Medi-Cal-eligible Californians who initially contacted the Covered California health benefit exchange.
The department said 143,608 people will likely receive Medi-Cal coverage as a result of contacting Covered California.
That's about 40 percent of all applications completed through the exchange, said Anthony Cava, a spokesperson for DHCS.
"We are very pleased with this surge of interest and the momentum we are seeing in consumer awareness," Cava said in a written statement.
The new Medi-Cal beneficiaries were generated between Oct. 1 and Nov. 20. The number is likely to increase substantially in the roughly four months before the enrollment period ends Mar. 31, 2014.
Medi-Cal currently covers 8.5 million Californians, about 22 percent of the state's population. State health officials estimated one million to two million newly eligible Californians will sign up for Medi-Cal under the expansion, which is federally funded in full for the first two years. About 600,000 of those newly eligible are currently enrolled in the Low Income Health Program, and will make the switch to Medi-Cal when the expansion starts in 2014.
Not all Californians eligible for Medicaid sign up for Medi-Cal and that's where the increased attention and visibility from the exchange could make a big difference, Cava said.
"DHCS is committed, along with its partner, Covered California to ensure that those who are uninsured and eligible can take advantage of the opportunity to gain health coverage through Medi-Cal or a Covered California health plan," Cava said.