Salinas Medi-Cal Planning
Medi-Cal is basically Medicaid, only it is specifically for Californians. You see differences in Medicaid as you move from state to state, while Medicare is the same everywhere. California differs a lot from the other 49 states. If you research the laws for Medicaid in other states, the information you find will not be accurate for Medi-Cal. The rules for this program apply only in California, and nowhere else. We are an Elder Law practice and there are two things we use Medi-Cal planning for. The first is to utilize the IHSS program to have in-home care paid for by Medi-Cal. The second is to assuage the high cost of nursing home placement by having Medi-Cal pay for it. Our hundreds of clients who have taken advantage of this have saved millions of dollars all together.
Medicare is not the answer when it comes to covering the costs of long term stays in a nursing home. It simply doesn’t work that way, though many people think it does. Medicare is not a long term care program. Facilities try to limit Medicare coverage to about 20 days although Medicare was designed to cover up to 100 days. As long as you still qualify for Medi-Cal coverage, it will cover the costs of nursing home placement indefinitely. We have one case in which it has been over a decade that our client has been in a nursing home. Not many elders need such a long stay. But what if your loved one needs to stay for three or four years?
Medi-Cal works with a bunch of major providers including Molina, Anthem Blue Shield, and Kaiser. You do not need to be impoverished to qualify for Medi-Cal. The program is funded through federal and state taxes. The system was designed to allow people to keep hold of their income and assets as well as “safe harbor” allowances. Your assets are either counted as “exempt” or “countable”. The list of “exempt” assets is short and includes your income. These are the assets that have no value toward the program and that you will be allowed to keep. The “countable”assets do have value toward the program and may be subject to cost recovery after you pass on.
But you can’t just give away your assets to protect them. Medi-Cal looks back over a thirty month period to be sure you haven’t done this. The rules and regulations of Medi-Cal are complicated and often difficult to understand. It is easy to get lost in the weeds here. That is why planning for Medi-Cal before you need it is highly recommended. It is much easier to plan ahead and have everything in order than to let things go and let the pieces fall where they may. This could cost you and your family major dollars.
Nursing home stays can cost thousands per month and in Salinas it is no different. It adds up quickly and can deplete the savings a family has built up. Perhaps nursing home costs would be taking money from your spouse or kids. What would happen to the surviving spouse if all the money was sucked up into a nursing home? How would you replace the money and assets you hoped to pass on to your family after you die? If you come to us in time, we can help you plan for Medi-Cal and have them pay the costs of nursing home placement before it is too late. We will help you protect and preserve those assets for your family.
How is it possible to protect assets when a couple has a few houses and a couple million in savings? Well, this is where the law becomes pretty complicated and the rules very complex. But if it is done the right way, California law will allow it. We will review all of your assets including:
- Vacant land
- Retirement income
- Retirement plans
- Rental Properties
- Life insurance
This will help us to get an overall view of your income and assets and guide us in making a plan to protect them for your spouse and beneficiaries.
Not everyone is aware that Medi-Cal can save them thousands of dollars every month. They pay for years of nursing home costs needlessly. People who would have paid over a million dollars in costs could save most of that money by coming to me first. Every case is different. If you are not ready now but want to be sure you have someone to go to later, check your baseline estate planning documents. They should be prepared with future Elder Law needs in mind. We can change them later if it needs to be done, even if your elder loved one has lost the ability to sign legal documents for themselves.
Even if you have a trust in place, it is a dangerous gamble to sit back and believe that you or your parents are just “fine”. Many estate plans just won’t work when they are needed, likely due to improper documentation or some other similar issue. By then it will be too late to protect assets for the family. California’s low quality of care in nursing homes has long been criticized, and we would hate to see anything harmful or negative happen to your beloved family member should you choose the wrong placement.
When you plan ahead with a professional Elder Law attorney, you will have the benefit of being able to go over your options in advance, looking for the right nursing home ahead of time, and feeling good about the decisions you have made regarding your loved ones care and Medi-Cal. It will also make the process of applying for Medi-Cal much easier. Protect your assets and income properly today, so you don’t have to rush and scramble to get things lined up right when tomorrow comes. If you think you are ready, I invite you to call for your free consultation to discuss your options for Medi-Cal.