Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) is a government program that provides essential healthcare coverage for individuals with limited income. The program is means-tested, meaning that qualifying Medi-Cal recipients cannot have income and assets that exceed a certain value amount and still maintain eligibility. However, someresources are exempt from the program’s means assessment while others are considered countable Medi-Cal assets. Therefore, if you are applying for or receiving Medi-Cal, you will want to know: What are considered Medi-Cal assets?
California’s Medi-Cal program is a program that provides health care coverage for qualifying children and adults with limited income and assets. Medi-Cal is often essential for senior adults because the program pays for long-term care services such as nursing home and in-home health care. Without Medi-Cal, someone in need of long-term care would have to pay out-of-pocket or rely upon a costly long-term care insurance policy to pay for these services. In many cases, it’s not realistic or possible for someone to pay the thousands of dollars a month it costs to provide them with long-term care. Likewise, long-term care insurance premiums are often not affordable. By contrast, Medi-Cal can provide long-term care and other medical coverage at little or no cost to the patient.
Medi-Cal assets are the funds and resources that the program will consider when determining an applicant’s eligibility. Medi-Cal assets include cash, bank account holdings, a second vehicle, real estate that is not the applicant’s primary home, and certain other resources. At present, seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for Medicare are subject to the Medi-Cal asset test. This means that the program will examine the value of their Medi-Cal assets to assess program eligibility. For regular Medi-Cal, a qualifying Med-Cal recipient cannot have non-exempt assets valued at more than $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. For long term care Medi-Cal the qualifying recipient cannot have non-exempt assets valued at more than $2,000 for individual and $137,400 for a couple.
The Medi-Cal program does not consider all of an applicant’s assets to be countable for purposes of determining program eligibility. These non-countable assets are considered exempt from the program’s means calculation. For example, some of the personal assets exempted from the program’s assessment include an applicant’s primary residence, one vehicle, items considered household goods and belongings, life insurance policies up to a certain value amount, and irrevocable pre-paid burial policies. The rules regarding Medi-Cal exempt assets can be complex, however, and it’s important to have a complete understanding of them before you apply for coverage.
According to a recent report, approximately 2 million Californians are currently enrolled in both Medicare and Medi-Cal. During 2021, a provision of the state’s budget was approved that will eventually eliminate the asset test for many individuals. This development will impact those who are 65 and older and people under 65 with certain disabilities. The change will mean that these Medi-Cal applicants’ financial eligibility will be based solely on their income rather than on their assets and income. This will be significant for aging and impaired Californians who are eligible for Medicare and need long-term care. At present, the program rules have not changed, and to be eligible, an applicant would have to reduce their countable assets and holdings to $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples to meet Medi-Cal’s program requirements.
One mistake that people can make is waiting to apply for Medi-Cal. You don’t want to wait until the need for Medi-Cal arises before taking steps to determine your eligibility. The Medi-Cal application process can be complicated and time-consuming, and often those who require long-term care services have serious medical conditions that require immediate attention. If you think you will need to rely upon Medi-Cal, it’s vital that you consult with an experienced Medi-Cal planning attorney now to determine your options. Your Medi-Cal planning attorney can help you evaluate your circumstances and Medi-Cal assets and determine what you need to do to get the coverage that you need.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California Medi-Cal planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and start your solution. Please get in touch with us online or by phone to set up a free consultation today.