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Examining the exemptions to Medi-Cal estate recovery claims

Most Woodland Hills residents share one thing: Debt. Repaying debts is often something that many will not be able to fully accomplish during their lifetimes. In fact, according to, nearly 18 percent of all Americans will die with unpaid debts. Oftentimes, too little thought is given to those estate heirs and beneficiaries left to deal with these liabilities.

Among the most common debts that people leave behind are medical expenses. In California, the state's Medi-Cal program was created to help cover the costs of medical care for those who can't afford them. Following the death of a Medi-Cal recipient, these expenses will often have to be repaid. Heirs and beneficiaries, however, may not always be left having to foot the bill from their portions of the deceased's estate. There are certain situations where they may qualify for an exemption should the repayment of medical claims lead to a substantial hardship. The California Code of Regulations regarding estate recovery lists those qualifications as:

  •          If an inheritance would allow one to get off of state assistance.
  •          If the inheritance would be considered the primary source of income for the beneficiary.
  •          When a blind, elderly, or disabled heir has lived with the deceased for at least one year and continues to live in the same residence.
  •          When a beneficiary had served as the primary caregiver to the deceased for at least two years prior to needing more extensive medical care.
  •          If the equity in any real property is needed to ensure it can still be lived in or that beneficiaries are able to maintain a basic standard of living.

A letter to the California Department of Health Care Services is required within 60 days of having received a claim recovery letter in order for one to be considered for exemption. 

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