San Jose Medi-Cal Planning
Medi-Cal is the Californian version of Medicaid. Because Medicaid changes across the states, it isn’t to be confused with widely-applying Medicare. Medi-Cal is a federally funded healthcare program providing financial relief from long-term care such as nursing home costs or certain in-home care instances. Where Medicare tends to only cover a maximum of 100 days of long-term care, Medi-Cal can cover these costs indefinitely in San Jose.
While most programs require using a federally funded option as a last resort, Medi-Cal is designed to be used while an individual is not completely impoverished. Guidelines within the program allow for spouses to retain incomes, assets to be held, and even “safe harbor” allowances to qualify someone down the road with some protected assets. With the difficulty of understanding these rules and restrictions of the program, it is most often recommended that a Medi-Cal elder law attorney in San Jose is consulted when applying to ensure that everything is planned to the fullest extent.
What are Assets and Income Limits with Medi-Cal?
Every government program comes with red tape, and Medi-Cal is no different. Medi-Cal has strict asset and income limits to qualify an individual for long-term care financial assistance. Assets deemed either “countable” or “exempt,” are considered heavily when going through the application phase. While countable assets are any that have value towards the program, exempt assets are those that are passed over. These might include a vehicle, home, some life insurance policies, personal belongings, or funeral funds. In some cases, the fact that a spouse’s income is not enough to live on may exempt other assets to raise the number as well.
Income limits, however, can be pretty straightforward. Medi-Cal limits in San Jose apply to those that are residents or spouses of residents in nursing homes. When people have income over the allowable limit, the extra is sent to the nursing home to be paid towards the cost of living. While spouses are allowed to keep their income, that amount might not be enough to live on. To combat this, they are often able to receive a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA), although this is not guaranteed in every case.
Planning for Medi-Cal Long-Term
Whether someone is planning for their own long-term care or their parents’, starting early is always the best course of action. In doing so, they are better able to prepare for application complications related to maxed income or extra assets. When people are unprepared and are forced into a long-term care facility unexpectedly, savings can expire very quickly – and even more so when both spouses are needing care.
Properly preparing for Medi-Cal well in advance can help ensure the 30-month history checkup in financial transactions is not an issue, incomes are below the maximum level, and assets are regulated under the guidelines. Due to the often-confusing language of the Medi-Cal rules and regulations, people should always utilize a professional. Instead of guessing at what might happen down the road, an experienced elder law planner will be able to account for almost anything that might happen down the road and keep them from racking up harsh penalties from the program.
Hiring a Medi-Cal Planning Attorney
Although some people may read the income and asset limitations as easy fixes (why not just give the extras away?), a misinterpretation of the guidelines can lead to quite a lot of trouble. Using an experienced Medi-Cal attorney in San Jose will better ensure that you are able to qualify for what you need through the program with as little disruption to your life as possible. With the experience a professional brings to the table, they will be able to tell you how to use certain regulations to your advantage, as well as what you need to do in order to fit them when need be.
Although starting early in planning is not always an option, an elder law attorney will communicate all of your options in a way that you can understand. No matter how long someone waits to plan, it is almost never too late to qualify for Medi-Cal here in San Jose. Whenever you are ready to talk to an expert in the field of elder law and Medi-Cal, give us a call!