It is hard to imagine that 10 years ago this month, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded Medicaid to more low-income adults. It seems like only yesterday. Prior to the ACA, 42 out of 50 states had uninsured rates of more than 10%. More than 17% of California residents had no health insurance coverage.
In 2014, I was working at another safety net health plan much like HPSM. I will never forget one conversation I had with a man who told me that because he and his wife had health coverage for the first time, he could start saving for his children’s education. That’s how important health coverage is for people.
It is fitting then, that as we celebrate this 10-year anniversary of the ACA Medicaid expansion, the state of California is taking another bold step. Starting this month, HPSM will begin enrolling thousands of new members. It is not unusual for us to do so, but what is notable is that California will become the first state to cover all residents regardless of documentation status. Locally, this means that many of the 20,000 individuals currently enrolled in Access to Care for Everyone (ACE), which HPSM administers for San Mateo County, are being transitioned to our Medi-Cal plan, which will provide expanded benefits (including dental) and a broader network of providers, all at no cost to the individual.
With this transition, we expect that the number of uninsured in California and San Mateo County will drop to less than 4%. While we celebrate this tremendous step forward in coverage, moving from 17% to 4% uninsured in the last decade, we know that it is only the first step. Health insurance coverage provides a safety net, both emotionally and financially, as it did for the man with whom I spoke 10 years ago. To truly attain our vision that healthy is for everyone means that not only do our members have health coverage, but they also have the same access to health care services for themselves and their families, and that they have the same opportunity to attain their best possible health.
This month we celebrate this expanded Medi-Cal coverage to more San Mateo County residents, and we continue to do the important work to make our vision a reality.
Chief Executive Officer