Patients struggle when Medi-Cal fails to cover prescription costs


Alexa Oslowski

Outside of Calpulli where students have access to medical resources.

by Shayne Jones, Staff Writer

One in three Californians are Medi-Cal recipients, according to the California Health Care Foundation. Many of these families have members suffering from chronic illnesses that require around the clock care, medication and monitoring. 

I happen to be one such family member. 

I have a disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and I am required to take daily medication to regulate my underactive thyroid gland. I have Medi-Cal, and I recently needed to get my prescription refilled before I ran out of pills. I had to pay out of pocket three times in order to collect my prescription, all while I was supposedly covered by Medi-Cal. 

Apparently, California hospitals cannot bill your medication to Medi-Cal unless you are enrolled with a specific provider. 

What if I didn’t have the money to pay for the prescription I need on a daily basis? 

I am fortunate to have the financial stability to have paid for those medications out of pocket, but that’s not a reality for the majority of the 13 million low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal.

I am a supporter of Medi-Cal. I wouldn’t have medical coverage if it weren’t for Medi-Cal, but a service that supports millions of Californians needs to guarantee that it will indeed provide for those people when they need it. 

Low-income Californians more often than not, enroll in Medi-Cal and other government aided programs because they need the coverage and would probably not survive without it. 

But if these people are low-income, how is it fair to assume they can find outside funds to pay out-of-pocket expenses? If what happened to me, happens on a frequent basis to other Medi-Cal recipients, there could be more dire repercussions than people just being out a couple hundred dollars. People could die. 

College students are among one of the larger low-income demographics in California. I’m fairly positive that I’m not the only SDSU student who is enrolled in Medi-Cal. On top of all of the other expenses that college students are expected and required to pay every year, they should not be shackled with the insecurity of not being able to afford medical care. 

We need Medi-Cal to improve its services. A person’s medical health is not a trivial matter, and it needs to be treated as such. 

 Deliver what you promise, cover what you’ve promised to cover and try not to leave someone with a bill they can’t afford to pay. Money is just money. 

But a life is irreplaceable. 

Shayne Jones is a senior studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @shaynejones.