Can I apply for Medi-Cal while incarcerated?
Yes! If you were on Medi-Cal before you were incarcerated, there’s a good chance you’re eligible to reapply as your release date approaches. If you were also on SSI disability benefits before your incarceration, you may need to contact the Social Security Administration to restart your SSI checks before Medi-Cal accepts you (see PG. 489 for details on what happens to your SSI while incarcerated).
If you are incarcerated in a state prison: If you’re approaching your release date and likely to qualify for Medi-Cal, pre-release staff at your correctional facility should offer to help you apply about two months before your release. If you agree to authorize correctional staff as your “Authorized Representative” using form MC 306 (see sample form in Appendix G of the Public Benefits chapter, PG. 518), that staff person must ensure that your application is complete 60-90 days before your release, and send it to the Medi-Cal office in the county where you’ll be living Ideally, the office will establish your eligibility before your release and send you a Benefits Identification Card so that you can access health care when you get out. In some cases, there may be a delay if the Medi-Cal office needs more information from you. Speak to the prison’s pre-release staff to find out about Medi-Cal enrollment pre-release.
If you are incarcerated in a county jail: The kind of help you can get with applying for Medi-Cal will depend on what county you’re in. Most jails in California now provide some form of information and help with Medi-Cal enrollment for people nearing release. And in some jails you can even get help connecting with community health services covered by Medi-Cal. Speak to the jail’s pre-release staff to find out about Medi-Cal enrollment pre-release.
ACWDL 13-18: Medi-Cal & Related Programs for State & County Inmates, Cal. Health & Human Servs. Agency Dep’t of Health Care Servs., http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/eligibility/Documents/13-18.pdf; ACWDL 14-24: State Inmate Pre-Release Medi-Cal Application Process, http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/eligibility/Documents/ACWDL2014/14-24.pdf; ACWDL 14-26: Implementation of AB 720—Suspension of Medi-Cal Benefits for all Inmates & Other Requirements, State of Cal. Health & Human Servs. Dep’t of Healthcare Servs., http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/eligibility/Documents/ACWDL2014/14-26.pdf. ↑
Medi-Cal Eligibility, State of Cal. Health & Human Servs. Dep’t of Healthcare Servs., http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/eligibility/Documents/c09-16.pdf. ↑
State Inmate Pre-Release Medi-Cal Application Process, State of Cal. Health & Human Servs. Dep’t of Healthcare Servs., http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/eligibility/Documents/ACWDL2014/14-24.pdf. ↑
Health Coverage Enrollment of California’s Local Criminal Justice Population, Safeandjust.org, http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/211/ac/6/484/CountyEnrollmentSurvey_singles.pdf, Medi-Cal Enrollment of County Jail and Probation Populations, Dep’t of Health Care Servs., Sept. 10, 2014, http://www.counties.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/0910_medical_enrollment_webinar_slides_0.pdf. ↑