New California laws 2024: health insurance for undocumented residents

California will become the first state to allow undocumented individuals of all ages to be eligible for health insurance starting in the new year.

The new guidelines, which take effect Jan. 1, 2024, provide low-income, undocumented residents eligibility under Medi-Cal coverage (the state's version of the federal government's Medicaid program for low-income individuals).

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the budget deal back in May, and the program is expected to provide full coverage for approximately 700,000 undocumented residents, and primarily serve those in the 26-49 year age range, officials said.

Undocumented residents under the age of 26 have had access to Medi-Cal coverage since 2019.

Californians generally are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage based on their income. The income cap for a family of four this year is $36,156. California also opens Medi-Cal eligibility to people with certain medical conditions. It’s available to people who are pregnant, blind, disabled, under age 21, living in a nursing home or are a recently settled refugee.

"All Californians, regardless of their age or where they were born, should have access to basic necessities like food and fair, steady wages," said Director of health and public benefits policy at the California Immigrant Policy Center, Sarah Dar in a press release.

Undocumented residents remain the largest group of uninsured individuals in California, according to a recent analysis from the the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

The new law will lead to the largest drop in uninsured Californians in a decade, according to officials.

"This is a game changer," said Los Angeles Assemblyman Miguel Santiago. "It’s one of the most important pieces of legislation that’s gonna go through this house because the ability to give health care means the ability to live life without pain."