Medicare is a government health insurance program that is available to seniors who have paid into the program sufficiently during their working years. Because of the fact that you are going to be eligible to enroll in the Medicare program, you might wonder why Medi-Cal may be relevant to you when you are a senior citizen.
The reason why a significant percentage of elders who were previously enrolled in the Medicare program ultimately qualify for Medi-Cal is because they need assistance with long-term care costs. Medicare will assist with up to 100 days of convalescent care, but it does not cover custodial care at all.
To be able to qualify for Medi-Cal, your assets must not exceed $2,000. However, these are countable assets (non-exempt assets). Some of your property, such as your home up to $802,000 in equity in 2013, does not count.
People who are engaged in Medi-Cal planning often “spend down” in anticipation of applying for Medi-Cal. To explain by way of example, let’s say that you are a widow and you have one son. You have an estate plan leaving everything to your son.
You anticipate the need for long-term care. If you maintain personal possession of your property, you won’t be able to qualify. Rather than exhausting nearly all of your resources to pay for long-term care before you can qualify for the Medi-Cal program, you give your assets to your son.
This could be a viable strategy, but you can wait too long because there is a Medi-Cal look back period. Nationally the look back period has been 60 months for some time, but in California we have had a 30 month look back period. This is changing, and California is adopting the five-year look back period.
A transfer of non-exempt assets during the look back period can result in a period of ineligibility. As of the posting of this article, for every $7,549 of non-exempt assets given away during the look back period, a month of ineligibility will result.
As a result of this look back period, you have waited too long if you try to start planning ahead to obtain Medi-Cal eligibility weeks or months before you actually need living assistance. Ideally, you should start planning ahead with Medi-Cal eligibility in mind early on so that you do not ultimately give anything away within the look back period.
The above having been stated, it is never really too late to discuss Medi-Cal planning with a licensed San Jose elder care attorney. Even if you did not start planning at the ideal time, you may be able to mitigate your losses if you go forward in an intelligent and informed manner.
If you’re interested in Medi-Cal planning, we would like to recommend a valuable resource. Our firm has created a free special report on the subject. This report takes an in-depth look at the steps that you can take to prepare yourself for eligibility. You can obtain the download by clicking this link: Medi-Cal Planning Report. We also regularly offer free Medi-Cal Planning Workshops. To view a list of our upcoming seminars, follow this link: Free Workshops.