Finding the Right Path to Coverage

November 4, 2013 – Concerned about the confusing messages that are flooding the press – and seniors’ mailboxes – regarding health coverage? You are not alone.

To address the confusion around health care coverage options in Alameda County, the Social Services Agency just released an updated Eligibility Chart to help social service providers identify coverage options for different people. Click here for a copy.

Also, our local HICAP provider, Legal Assistance for Seniors, has comparison charts for Medicare Advantage, prescription drug and MediGap plans on their web site at

Here are some simple guidelines to point seniors in the right direction this Fall:

  1. If you have Medicare, you do not need to purchase any coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange, called Covered California. Medicare open enrollment (from October 15 through December 7) is still the time for you to review your health and prescription drug coverage and make any changes for next year.  Contact or 1-800-MEDICARE for information, and call your local Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) to get free, neutral help sorting through your options so you can make the choice that is best for you.  In Alameda County, the HICAP number is (510) 830-0393.  In Fremont, Hayward, Newark and Union City, seniors can also call the Senior Help Line at (510) 574-2041.

  2. If you have Medi-Cal, you do not need to purchase coverage through Covered California.  Some changes in Medi-Cal coverage will start next year (as early as April 2014) for seniors and people with disabilities with Medi-Cal in Alameda counties, so watch your mail beginning in 2014.

  3. For people younger than 65 who don’t have health coverage, Covered California is the place to go to find affordable coverage. Subsidies to help pay premiums may be available, depending on your income, and new eligibility rules (for instance, no asset test) will mean more people will be able to enroll in Medi-Cal.  Go to or call 1-800-300-1506.

  4. Beware of scams.  People with Medicare and/or Medi-Cal do not need new identity cards, will not get calls from the government about their health coverage, and should never pay anyone to enroll in coverage.  If you suspect a scam, call the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080.

Return to the Coordinated Care Initiative page here.