Medi-Cal is California’s name for the federal Medicaid program, which is designed to help qualified individuals pay for medical and nursing home care.
Medi-Cal is not the same as Medicare. Medicare covers individuals over age 65 that require medical care and only provides for nursing home care for patients coming directly from the hospital for a limited period of time. Taxpayers pay into the medicare program through payroll deductions or through social security payments if self employed.
Medi-Cal is a needs based program with particular eligibility requirements. Assets are classified as exempt or non-exempt. Owning exempt assets will not affect eligibility, but may be subject to an estate claim. Non-exempt assets greater than the determined level will preclude eligibility. Medi-Cal planning involves redistributing assets from non-exempt to exempt and otherwise reducing non-exempt assets. There are also certain income limitations to qualify and if an individual qualifies for Medi-Cal, their income will be paid to the nursing home as share of cost, less a small allowance.
Medi-Cal rules are complicated and subject to change. The application process can be arduous. The important thing to remember is that you have options under the rules and an advisor familiar with Medi-Cal can help you make the appropriate decisions.