Medi-Cal is California’s name for what is known as Medicaid in most states. While Medicare is the same everywhere, Medicaid differs from state to state and California is very different than the other 49 states. Remember that Medi-Cal is a term used only in California, and researching the laws of other states will give you information that is not correct for California Medi-Cal.
In our Elder Law practice, we use Medi-Cal planning for two primary purposes: (1) to have Medi-Cal pay for in-home care under the IHSS program, and (2) to have Medi-Cal pay for the high cost of nursing home care. We’ve had hundreds of clients take advantage of these programs and together they’ve saved millions of dollars.
Many people think that Medicare will cover the cost of long term stays in the nursing home, but that’s simply not right. People need to know that Medicare is not a program for long term care. Medicare is designed to cover “up to 100 days” of long term care, but, in most cases, the nursing facilities will try to limit coverage to only 20 days or so.
Medi-Cal coverage of nursing home costs will continue indefinitely as long as the elder still qualifies. In one case, our client has been in the nursing home on Medi-Cal for over 17 years. It’s true that very few elders will require such a lengthy stay, but what if the stay goes for four or six months? What if the stay goes two or three years? The average length of stay nationally is two and a half years. The cost of nursing homes in our area is about $12,000 per month. That can add up quickly to deplete a family’s savings. In our area, that cost would be over $350,000. Is that money that your spouse or kids or grandkids could have used? Don’t let that money slip away from your family.
What happens to the surviving spouse if the family assets are depleted? What happens to the assets that the family hoped and planned to pass to their children and grandchildren? We can help preserve those assets and have Medi-Cal pay the costs of the long term care if the elder or the family comes to us in time.
How is this possible? How can we protect family assets when the couple has four houses, or $3 million in savings? It’s a very complicated area of the law with an unusually complex set of rules, but California law does allow us to do this when it’s done correctly.
We’ll review the residence, annuities, life insurance, rental properties, vacant land, timeshares, automobiles, investments, retirement plans, retirement income, etc. to get an overall view of the elder’s income and assets, and then we’ll work together to create a plan to protect those assets for the spouse and the other heirs and beneficiaries.
People often needlessly pay for months or years of nursing home care simply because they are not aware that they could have Medi-Cal pay for this. In one case, the family had used the the elder’s money and funds of the adult children to pay over $1 million for the elder’s stay at the nursing home. I probably could have saved that family $950,000 if they had come to me at the beginning.
Each case is different. If you want to discuss your options regarding Medi-Cal, call us to make an appointment for a FREE consultation. If you’re not ready for this now, but want to be in a position to take advantage of this at a future date, make sure that your base level Estate Planning documents are done NOW with an eye towards Elder Law needs in the future so that we’re able to make the necessary changes at a later date even if the elder is unable to sign legal documents at that time due to a stroke or dementia or some other issue.
Don’t sit back and think that you or your parents are “fine” because there’s already a trust in place. Many current estate plans simply won’t work when they’re needed, and then it’s too late to protect the family assets. The old “A” / “B” trusts can cause a LOT of problems. Get things reviewed now before it’s too late to make changes.