The majority of senior citizens will qualify for Medicare when they reach the age of 65. You obtain eligibility through the accrual of retirement credits. You can earn up to four credits per year while you are working and paying taxes. Once you have accumulated 40 credits, you will be qualified for Medicare coverage when you reach the age of eligibility.
If you are going to qualify for Medicare at the age of 65, you may wonder why you should concern yourself with Medi-Cal rules and regulations. Medi-Cal is also a government run health insurance program. If you have Medicare, you won’t need Medi-Cal at first, and you may not qualify, because Medi-Calis a need-based program.
You must be able to demonstrate significant financial need to qualify for Medi-Cal. Working people who plan ahead for retirement are probably not going to be able to come in under the stringent asset and income limits.
In spite of the above, Medi-Cal is in fact quite relevant to a very significant percentage of seniors. This is because Medicare will not pay for most long-term care. If you need help with your activities of daily living, you will have to look elsewhere for assistance.
Most seniors are going to require long-term care at some point in time. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of people reaching the age of 65 will ultimately need living assistance.
Medi-Cal will pay for long-term custodial care. This is why Medi-Cal is something to keep on your radar, even if you are going to qualify for Medicare coverage. You may be surprised to hear that most of the long-term care that is received by seniors in California is being paid for by the Medi-Cal program. The majority of these individuals were never especially financially needy throughout their lives.
Qualifying for Medi-Cal
You may wonder if you can give away your assets to qualify for Medi-Cal if you need long-term care. The answer is yes but it must be done so in accordance with a complex set of rules.
Many people engage in a process called a spend down. They give away assets to their loved ones prior to applying for Medi-Cal coverage.
However, you cannot find out that you need long-term care today, give away your assets tomorrow, and qualify for Medi-Cal the next week. In California there is a 30 month look-back period. You are penalized and your eligibility is delayed if you give away assets within 30 months of applying for eligibility. There are effective and legal strategies that can avoid the look back penalty.
Medi-Cal Planning Consultation
If you are interested in learning more about long-term care and Medi-Cal, we can help.