In California, residents with limited means can access the state health care program. Medi-Cal is the state’s form of Medicaid, the federal and state program that pays for health care services for some people with limited financial resources. Medi-Cal recipients must show a card every time they access services. If this card is lost or stolen, it must be replaced to keep the health care coverage current.
California Medi-Cal Overview
Medi-Cal gives qualified recipients in California access to low-cost or no-cost health insurance coverage. The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) administers the Medi-Cal program.
To decide whether an applicant would be eligible to receive help from the Medi-Cal program (and how much help they could receive), they will be asked to provide some personal information. Examples include the following:
- His or her annual income
- Age of the applicant
- The age(s) of any children included on the application
- Whether the applicant is currently pregnant, disabled or blind
- Whether the applicant is currently receiving Medicare
Most Medi-Cal applicants can usually find out whether they qualify for this health care coverage based on their income alone.
Read More: How to Replace my Medical BIC Card
What California Medi-Cal Covers
California Medi-Cal benefits provide coverage for “Essential Health Benefits,” such as
- Checkups and preventive care
- Chronic disease management
- In-home care
- Laboratory tests
- Maternity and newborn care
- Medical supplies and devices (wheelchairs and oxygen tanks)
- Mental health treatment
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medications
- Transportation to medical appointments
Dental care is also provided through Medi-Cal on a fee-for-service basis through most of the state. Los Angeles County and Sacramento County residents may also get dental services through Dental Managed Care (DMC). It covers the same services as the state fee-for-services plan.
How to Access Medi-Cal Coverage
Once an applicant is approved for Medi-Cal, they can start using their benefits immediately. New beneficiaries are issued a Medi-Cal Benefits Card (BIC). Under Medi-Cal card rules, health care and dental providers must see the BIC before they can provide services. The information on the card is also needed to bill Medi-Cal.
The BIC indicates the beneficiary’s name, date of birth and plan ID number. It also has the card’s issue date on the front.
Medi-Cal Beneficiary Responsibilities
California Medi-Cal coverage beneficiaries have certain responsibilities.
- A person covered under Medi-Cal health care benefits must present their card as proof of coverage before they can receive medical or dental treatment.
- If a beneficiary is seeing more than one doctor or dentist, they should tell each one about the other doctor or dentist who is providing treatment.
- Beneficiaries must use their Medi-Cal benefits properly and not abuse them. It is a crime to sell or lend a BIC to someone else. It is also a crime to make false statements to a medical provider to get drugs.
Read More: Medi-Cal Guidelines in California
How to Get a Replacement Medi-Cal Card
A Medi-Cal recipient may need to replace their BIC under these circumstances:
- The card was not received.
- It was lost.
- The information on the BIC is incorrect.
- The card was stolen.
In any of these circumstances, the Medi-Cal recipient should contact their local county office. To find out the contact information for the county office, visit the Department of Health Care Services website’s page about Medi-Cal. Click on the link entitled Local County Offices or call 1-800-541-5555 (TTY 1-800-430-7077).
Read More: Federal Medicaid Estate Recovery Program Act
- California Department of Health: My Medi-Cal: How to Get the Health Care You Need
- Medicare.gov: Your Medicare Costs: Get Help Paying Costs: Medicaid
- California Department of Health: County Offices to Apply for Health Coverage, Medi-Cal, and Other Benefits
- Kaiser Family Foundation. "New Kaiser/New York Times Survey Finds One in Five Working-Age Americans With Health Insurance Report Problems Paying Medical Bills," Accessed Oct. 9, 2019.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Do I Need to Know If I’m Thinking About Consolidating My Credit Card Debt?" Accessed Oct. 9, 2019.
- Medicaid.gov. "Eligibility," Accessed Oct. 9, 2019.
Jodee Redmond is a freelance writer, blogger and editor who has been working full-time for over 15 years. She is a graduate of Centennial College and has worked as a tax consultant and a legal assistant. Her previous experience and boundless curiosity is a distinct advantage when writing about such varied topics as income tax, insurance, commercial property, business, construction, addiction, freelance writing and more.