Medi-Cal Planning & Elder Law Attorneys in Napa, California


Helping Clients Get Medi-Cal Benefits to Pay for Long-Term Care

Medi-Cal is the Medicaid program that serves California, providing health insurance coverage to low-income and disabled individuals. Due to its strict eligibility requirements, not everyone can qualify for Medi-Cal. Therefore, if you’ve always purchased your own private health insurance, you might not be familiar with Medi-Cal. But this could change as you get older, because Medi-Cal provides coverage for long-term care that you won’t get with private health insurance or Medicare. 

So, if you’re becoming concerned about the cost of long-term care, including skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes, consider applying for Medi-Cal. But first, schedule an initial consultation with our Medi-Cal planning attorneys to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements. If you don’t meet them now, our lawyers can improve your chances of meeting them in the future after some careful planning regarding your estate, so call us to get started.

How Can Medi-Cal Benefits Help You?

If you have health insurance, you might wonder why you would need Medi-Cal when you haven’t before. The answer is that regular health insurance policies don’t typically cover nursing home costs. Even Medicare only pays for a limited number of days, so you can’t count on it to pay for your nursing home costs either.

In fact, Medicare Part A may agree to pay for up to 20 days in a skilled nursing facility, usually only after hospitalization. After that, you’ll owe a co-pay if you want to stay in the skilled nursing facility. After 100 days, the coverage will stop and you’ll have to pay all long-term care costs, which is why you can’t rely on Medicare to pay for a nursing home.

Another option is buying long-term care insurance, but this requires you to pay expensive premiums for years if you want continued care. For most people who need long-term care in California, Medi-Cal is the simplest, most affordable option, but not everyone knows if they qualify or how to start the application process.

This is why you should work with a Medi-Cal planning attorney for help determining eligibility as you think about the long-term care you might need as you age. Contact Celaya Law to learn what the Medi-Cal eligibility requirements are and how we can help you meet them.

How Do You Qualify for Medi-Cal?

Medi-Cal’s resource limits change periodically, which is why you should talk to Medi-Cal planning attorneys before applying. In fact, 2024 will see a significant change in the process of determining eligibility, because it will be the first year that the program does not count assets when deciding who qualifies. 

However, if you apply before then, you’ll have to adhere to the asset limit of $130,000 for a single applicant and $195,000 for spouses applying together. Fortunately, there are several exempt assets that you don’t have to count in this limit, which could bring down your total assets enough for you to qualify for Medi-Cal. The exempt assets for Medi-Cal include:

  • Your home, as long as it’s your principal residence
  • Household goods
  • Personal effects, including heirlooms and clothes
  • One vehicle
  • Term life insurance policies
  • Whole life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less
  • Prepaid irrevocable burial plan 
  • Musical instruments
  • Property used for business
  • KEOGHs, IRAs, and additional work-related pensions if the Medi-Cal applicant is getting principal and interest payments or if the account is in the spouse’s name
  • Life savings of up to $130,000 for a single Medi-Cal recipient 

There may be other exempt assets to know about, which a Medi-Cal planning attorney will tell you. They will also explain non-exempt property and the current amount of the Community Spouse Resource Allowance that your spouse can keep. To learn more, contact our law offices in Napa before you start the Medi-Cal application process.

What Are Medi-Cal Planning Strategies?

If you look at your non-exempt assets and realize they likely exceed the resource limits, it may be difficult to qualify for Medi-Cal now. However, Medi-Cal planning attorneys can look for ways to reallocate your non-exempt property so you can qualify for Medi-Cal in the future. 

For example, a Medi-Cal planning lawyer can help you spend down assets by prepaying for expenses like funeral costs and home repairs. You can also invest in a new property or pay off your mortgage as a way of turning non-exempt property into exempt property before you apply for Medi-Cal. 

Another Medi-Cal planning strategy is to transfer assets to an irrevocable trust. Since you won’t have access to these trust assets during your lifetime, they won’t play a role in Medi-Cal eligibility. You can also establish an annuity as an asset protection method that increases the chance that you’ll qualify for Medi-Cal. Contact our law offices to discuss these and other Medi-Cal planning options to fund long-term care.

Should You Hire Medi-Cal Planning & Elder Law Attorneys in Napa, California?

Many people need long-term care at some point. If you don’t have the funds to stay in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility for as long as necessary, it’s time to consider your options. Medi-Cal is a common way to pay for long-term care, but determining Medi-Cal eligibility is not easy on your own. 

This is why you should hire Medi-Cal planning attorneys to help you qualify for Medi-Cal so you can afford long-term care. Note that there is a look-back period of 60 months, meaning that you should be finished transferring assets or using other asset protection strategies at least five years before you apply for Medi-Cal. If you have limited resources to pay for long-term care and are ready to consider how Medi-Cal can help, call our law offices at 707-754-0977.

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