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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, February 17, 2020

10 Tips That Elderly Californians Should Know About Medi-Cal Planning

Medi-Cal is the Medicaid health care program in California. If you have limited income and assets, you might qualify for several types of medical services through Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal offers health coverage at little or no cost if you are eligible and live in California.

Your age, income, and resources are some of the factors that the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) will evaluate when determining whether you qualify for coverage. A California Medi-Cal planning lawyer can walk you through the application process and explain your options for meeting the income and asset limitations.

10 Tips for Medi-Cal Planning

  1. The DHCS can reject your application for Medi-Cal benefits if you do not apply for all of the income, like disability and unemployment benefits, for which you are eligible.
  2. Applying for those types of income can take you over the income limit for Medi-Cal and disqualify you for coverage.
  3. You have legal ways to reduce the amount of your countable income, like setting up a Medicaid trust. A standard living trust most likely will not protect your income or assets. You will need a specialized trust.
  4. Many people try to bring their countable assets down to the level to qualify for Medi-Cal before entering a nursing home. You should talk with a California Medi-Cal planning lawyer before you give away or sell any assets to try to be eligible for Medi-Cal. The program can impose harsh penalties for violations of their strict rules about resources.
  5. If Medi-Cal helps to pay for your nursing home costs or home and community-based services when you are 55 or older, the program will file a claim against your estate when you die to recover those costs.
  6. You do not have to wait for an “open enrollment” period to apply for Medi-Cal. You can apply in person at your local county office. Also, you can apply online or by telephone, email, fax, or regular mail.
  7. Some older Californians must join a Medi-Cal medical plan. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or State Supplementary Payments (SSP) and you are 65 years or older, you must sign up for a Medi-Cal medical plan. Also, people age 65 and up must enroll in a Medi-Cal medical plan if they get Medi-Cal or CalWORKS (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) at no cost.
  8. It can take a month and a half for the state to process your Medi-Cal application. If your application is because of a disability, the process can take up to three months. You can request a hearing if you are unhappy with the decision of the DHCS.
  9. Unlike original Medicare, Medi-Cal covers many dental and vision services.
  10. Sometimes, Medi-Cal will help you pay for medical or dental services that you received during the three months before you applied for Medi-Cal. You need to submit your request for retroactive Medi-Cal benefits through your county office no later than one year after receiving the services.

Contact Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Today

Contact the experienced elder law attorneys at Horizon Law today. Our California Medi-Cal planning attorneys can go over your options with you and help you craft strategies to help you get benefits while protecting your income and assets.


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