California Health Report: Homeless Are Hesitant to Use Medi-Cal

By Lisa Renner

The expansion of Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act means that the homeless have more health care options this year than ever before.

Yet the handful of free homeless medical clinics in Modesto continue to see lines of patients eager to use their services. Some homeless people have trouble understanding the Medi-Cal enrollment process or providing the needed paperwork. Others would just rather be around other homeless people. Because of their hard life on the streets, they don’t always feel comfortable in more traditional settings.

As long as they earn no more than 138 percent of the poverty level ($15,860 for single adults, $32,500 for family of four), they qualify for Medi-Cal and can see any doctor who accepts the health coverage.

Richard Freitas, a homeless man who showed up for the free clinic at the Modesto Gospel Mission one evening for help with a wounded head, couldn’t give a good reason why he chose to go there rather than a doctor’s office. “I don’t know, I just don’t know,” he said, shaking his head.  He is enrolled with Medi-Cal and had a car that could take him to a doctor’s office.

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
  • St. Barnabas Senior Services

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