California lawmakers have debated whether people living in the state illegally should receive health benefits. Beginning next spring undocumented children will be eligible for Medi-Cal.
But about a million undocumented immigrants already receive Medi-Cal for emergencies and pregnancy-related care. And Jennifer Kent, Director of the California Department of Health Care Services, says the cost for that coverage is relatively low.
"Aside from delivery costs, that is not the population that is costing us a lot on the fee-for-service side," she says. "And that’s where all the undocumented are today."
Three million people are enrolled in fee-for-service Medi-Cal. Of those, Kent says 25,000 accounted for more than $3 billion in spending in 2013. She says they tend to be older people and people with significant disabilities or mental health problems.