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Medicare in California

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By the numbers

It is probably no surprise that California, the state with the highest population, also has the most Medicare beneficiaries. To learn more about Medicare in California, here are some statistics from 2018:*

  • Number of Medicare beneficiaries in California: 6,176,080
  • California beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or other Medicare health plan: 2,660,798
  • California beneficiaries enrolled in prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D: 4,890,273

Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug Plan sponsors must have a contract with Medicare in order to offer Medicare insurance plans (such as a Medicare HMO or a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Depending on the terms of the contract between the plan and Medicare, not every plan is available statewide or in all service areas. Each year, the plan must renew their contract with Medicare, so the availability of a plan in a specific service area is subject to change as a result of the annual contract renewal.

Medicare resources in California

Because California is home to so many beneficiaries, there are many Medicare resources that provide free, unbiased information and assistance.

California Medicare Savings Programs: Depending on your income, you may qualify for help paying your Medicare Part A or Part B premiums. There are also programs that help pay for some of your prescription costs. Your income has to be below a certain limit to qualify.

California State Health Insurance and Assistance Program (SHIP): SHIP is a federal grant that provides funding to each state to help create programs to assist beneficiaries in better understanding Medicare. In California, the SHIP grant supports the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). HICAP offers one-on-one counseling for Medicare beneficiaries in California. HICAP also provides information on Medicare plans, benefits, and prescription drug plans in California.

*Source: Statistical data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “Medicare Enrollment Dashboard,” from the CMS Office of Enterprise Data & Analytics, February 2019.

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