Nov. 15, 2013
Medicaid is a program that is funded by both the federal government and the states, and the details of how the program is implemented vary on a state-by-state basis. It should be noted that in California the program is called "Medi-Cal."
Theoretically Medi-Cal is intended to provide people with financial need who are not insured access to health care. It comes into play in the field of elder law as a way to pay for long-term care because Medicare does not pay for assisted living expenses.
It is possible to qualify for Medi-Cal without truly being financially indigent in spite of the $2000 upper resource limit. A lot of your property does not count towards this figure, including some valuable personal possessions, your motor vehicle, and your home.
Plus, if you are married and you need to enter into a long-term care facility but your spouse does not he or she may keep his or her half of community assets up to a certain limit. This limit is subject to change on an annual basis, but right now it is $113,640.
There is what they call a five-year or 30-month "look back" period to take into consideration when you are angling toward Medi-Cal eligibility. Some people will "spend down" in an effort to qualify for Medi-Cal, but when you do this within five years of applying you could be subject to a penalty that delays your eligibility.
Medi-Cal can be a big help, but you have to plan ahead in advance in an effort to obtain eligibility in an informed and intelligent manner. The best way of doing this is with the assistance of a licensed and experienced San Bernardino elder law attorney.