California has had a gold rush of people gaining health coverage—but the state will face a tougher time mining the remaining uninsured during Obamacare's next open-enrollment season, a new study suggests.
The Golden State saw about 3.4 million previously uninsured adults obtaining health insurance since last fall's launch of Obamacare. That equals 58 percent of the total uninsured population as of last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
The survey found that the bulk of those still lacking insurance are Hispanics. And many of them who are eligible for Obamacare and Medicaid are reluctant to enroll because they fear it will bring attention to their family's immigration status.
The big gains in reducing California's uninsured population came after the state enthusiastically bought into the Affordable Care Act by expanding eligibility for its Medicaid program, setting up its own health insurance exchange and aggressively marketing both options.
Overall, California had 1.7 million people deemed eligible for its Medicaid program, and 1.4 million others signed up for Obamacare plans as of mid-April.
While the state has about 12 percent of the total U.S. population, its Medicaid tally was 25 percent of the total U.S. eligibility determinations, and its Obamacare tally was 17.5 percent of nationwide signups.
"I do think that California could be a model for states if they did choose to embrace the ACA as much as California did," said Mollyann Brodie, who oversees the foundation's public opinion surveys.
The survey, released Wednesday, is the second in a series that aims to track the experiences of 2,001 uninsured state residents.
Most of the reduction in the numbers of uninsured Californians came from the two programs that are key to ACA's goal of getting all Americans some form of health coverage, the survey found.
Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program for the poor, signed up 25 percent of the state's uninsured population. (California is one of 27 states that have expanded or intended to expand eligibility for its Medicaid program to include nearly all poor adults. Those states have tended to see marked gains in their Medicaid rolls not only from the newly eligible, but also from the previously eligible.)