Many to Transition In and Out of Covered California

Recent media reports about have focused on the crush of people trying to sign up for Covered California, but analysts at UC Berkeley say not to overlook the many people who will join or leave the program after that deadline. “For many people, Covered California is a place where they will access coverage for a short time during a life transition, such as job-loss or divorce. People will enter and leave coverage on a regular basis,” said Ken Jacobs, who co-authored the report. Forty-three percent to 47% of those who are enrolled in a Covered California plan and are receiving federal tax subsidies to finance their coverage will leave that plan within 12 months. Twenty-one percent of those will move to Medi-Cal due to changing income and 19% will move to job-based coverage.

Sixteen percent of non-elderly people who signed up for Medi-Cal are expected to become eligible for plans offered through Covered California within 12 months, due to their crossing over the Medi-Cal income eligibility threshold. An additional 9.1% of this group will move into job-based coverage.

Some will enter the Covered California marketplace outside the open enrollment period when they experience a life transition that triggers a special enrollment period. These transitions include losing job-based coverage, gaining or becoming a dependent through marriage, having a new child through birth or adoption, becoming a citizen or lawfully present immigrant, and moving into a new service area.

Making sure that people transition successfully will depend partly on how much Medi-Cal and Covered California get the word out to eligible populations through the unemployment office, the DMV, and the food stamp program. “For health insurance reform to be successful in reducing the numbers of uninsured, Medi-Cal and Covered California will need to be prepared for not just long-term enrollees, but also for enrollees who…are enrolled for less than a year,” the authors conclude. For more information, visit

Last Updated 08/10/2022

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