National Changes in Healthcare Law Affect Medi-Cal

National Changes in Healthcare Law Affect Medi-Cal

Sweeping changes imposed upon the healthcare and insurance industries on a national level are set to take effect in less than a year. The Affordable Care Act requires states to transition into compliance with the new laws by 2014, which has left Medi-Cal officials in California scrambling to make the necessary changes to the program.

For those applying for Medi-Cal, getting approved for the program may at first glance seem much easier. The changes required by law will mean that more individuals will be able to qualify for Medi-Cal, as the income limits will be raised and childless couples will now be eligible. This could mean good news for seniors who are retiring, particularly those whose incomes were initially slightly too high for them to qualify.

The new eligibility rules could create a significant strain on the government-funded healthcare program, however. Currently Medi-Cal covers approximately 7 million Californians, and that number is expected to increase by about 1 to 1.4 million between 2014 and 2019. Unfortunately, what this could mean is a severe shortage in the number of available physicians and a longer wait to see a specialist. The current wait to see a doctor is four to six weeks except in cases of emergency, and patients could see this time frame extended even longer due to a shortage of physicians who accept Medi-Cal payments.

The new program rules will also include different tiers of eligibility, with some patients receiving free care while others will be required to pay premiums of varying amounts, depending upon income. Patients should also expect to see a shift toward more preventive care, as program planners hope this will ease the burden upon the system.

As with any large government-run entity, pervasive changes in the program will translate into changes for the individuals who depend upon it. As changes to Medi-Cal occur over the coming months, those who apply for the program may face different requirements than in the past. The attorneys at Bethel Law are experienced in navigating the Medi-Cal system, and are dedicated to staying up to date on changes in the law which affect the program.

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