2021 Edition — Medi-Cal Facts and Figures

Essential Source of Coverage for Millions

Len Finocchio
James Paci
Matthew Newman
Blue Sky Consulting Group


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Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, is the state’s health insurance program for Californians with low income, including nearly 4 in 10 children, one in five nonelderly adults, and two million seniors and people with disabilities. It also pays for more than 50% of all births in the state and 55% of all patient days in long-term care facilities.1 In total, over 13 million Californians — one in three — rely on the program for health coverage. Medi-Cal pays for essential primary, specialty, acute, behavioral health, and long-term care services.

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The Affordable Care Act allowed states the option to expand Medicaid, and California added over four million adults with low income to the program. Using only state resources, California also expanded Medi-Cal to cover three groups in households with low income regardless of immigration status: children, adults under 26, and in 2022, adults age 50 and over.

Medi-Cal Facts and Figures: Essential Source of Coverage for Millions presents findings about the Medi-Cal program based on the most recent data available.

Key findings include:

  • In fiscal year 2019–20, Medi-Cal brought in more than $65 billion in federal funds and accounted for nearly 16% of all state general fund spending.
  • People with disabilities composed 9% of Medi-Cal enrollees, but accounted for 31% of spending. Meanwhile, children accounted for 17% of enrollees, but just 6% of spending.
  • 85% of people served by Medi-Cal were enrolled in one of six managed care models.
  • More than three out of four Medi-Cal enrollees are in households where they or another family member works part- or full-time.
  • Starting in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuing economic downturn, and related policy changes resulted in hundreds of thousands of people enrolling in, or retaining, Medi-Cal coverage.
  • The state has proposed innovations and changes aimed at improving care for Medi-Cal members.

The Medi-Cal program faces numerous changes in the coming years, including procuring new contracts with managed care plans, which provide services to 11 million Medi-Cal enrollees in all 58 counties, and transitioning pharmaceutical benefits from managed care plans to the centralized Medi-Cal Rx program. Medi-Cal will also address the needs and costs of an aging population and implement strategies to address disparities in access, quality, and outcomes of care for enrollees of color.

The full report, a quick reference guide, and all the charts found in the report, are available for download below. These materials are part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our collection of current and past editions of Medi-Cal Facts and Figures.

Notes

  1. Fee-for-service only. Does not include patient days paid through Medi-Cal managed care contracts.