Does Medi-Cal look at assets?
When it comes to health care coverage, Medi-Cal is an important program that provides assistance to low-income individuals and families in California. However, many people wonder about the eligibility requirements, especially as they relate to their assets. In this article, we explore the question, “Does Medi-Cal take assets into account?” and provide expert insight to help you navigate the complexities of the program.
Understanding Medi-Cal Eligibility
Medi-Cal eligibility is based primarily on income and certain categorical requirements, such as age, disability, or pregnancy. However, asset limits are also considered, depending on the specific Medi-Cal program you are applying for. It’s important to note that not all Medi-Cal programs have asset limits, and even those that do have different limits based on factors such as age, disability status, or whether you’re applying as an individual or a couple.
For example, the Medi-Cal program for seniors and people with disabilities, known as the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) program, has specific asset limits that applicants must meet. Beginning in 2021, the asset limit will be $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples. However, certain assets, such as a primary residence, personal belongings, and a vehicle, are generally excluded from the asset calculation.
Exempted vs. Countable Assets
When determining eligibility, Medi-Cal distinguishes between exempt and countable assets. Exempt assets are those that are not considered when calculating your eligibility for the program. These assets typically include your primary residence, household goods and personal effects, a single vehicle, and certain life insurance policies with a face value below a certain threshold.
Countable assets, on the other hand, are those that are taken into account in determining your eligibility. These assets can include cash, bank accounts, investment accounts, additional vehicles, real estate other than your primary residence, and certain types of life insurance policies with a face value above the threshold set by Medi-Cal.
Transfer of Assets and the Look-Back Period
Some people may be tempted to transfer assets to family members or create trusts in order to qualify for Medi-Cal. However, it’s important to understand that Medi-Cal has rules in place to prevent the transfer of assets for the purpose of qualifying for the program. These rules are designed to ensure that individuals do not transfer assets solely to meet the program’s asset limits.
Medi-Cal uses a look-back period to review all asset transfers made by applicants. The look-back period is currently set at 30 months for most Medi-Cal programs. If you have transferred assets for less than fair market value during this period, it may result in a period of ineligibility for Medi-Cal benefits. It’s important to consult with a professional, such as an elder law attorney or financial planner, to understand the impact of asset transfers on your Medi-Cal eligibility.
Seek professional advice
Given the complexity of Medi-Cal eligibility rules and the potential impact on your assets, it is highly recommended that you seek professional advice. Consulting with an elder law attorney, financial planner, or certified Medi-Cal specialist can help you navigate the intricacies of the program and make informed decisions.
These professionals can help you understand asset limits, exempt and countable assets, and the potential consequences of transferring assets. They can also help you explore planning strategies, such as creating irrevocable trusts or using annuities, to protect your assets while still qualifying for Medi-Cal benefits.
In conclusion, while assets are considered in certain Medi-Cal programs, it’s important to understand the specific rules and exceptions that apply. Seeking professional advice is essential to ensure compliance with Medi-Cal regulations and to make informed decisions that protect your assets and secure the health care you need.
Does Medi-Cal look at assets?
Yes, Medi-Cal considers assets when determining eligibility for the program. Assets include cash, bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, investments, and other valuables that can be converted to cash.
What is the asset limit for Medi-Cal?
The asset limits for Medi-Cal eligibility vary depending on the specific program and the applicant’s eligibility category. For most individuals, the asset limit is $2,000. However, there are certain exemptions and higher limits for certain groups, such as individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled.
Which assets are exempt from Medi-Cal eligibility determination?
Medi-Cal has certain exemptions for assets that are not counted during eligibility determination. Some common exemptions include the primary residence, household furnishings, personal belongings, one vehicle, and retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s.
How does Medi-Cal count assets for married couples?
For married couples, Medi-Cal has specific rules for counting assets. In general, the assets of both spouses are considered jointly owned, regardless of whose name is on the asset. The community spouse, the spouse who is not applying for Medi-Cal, is allowed to retain a certain amount of assets known as the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA).
Can transferring assets affect Medi-Cal eligibility?
Yes, transferring assets can affect Medi-Cal eligibility. Medi-Cal has rules regarding asset transfers made within a certain look-back period, which is currently 30 months. If an applicant or their spouse has transferred assets for less than fair market value during this period, they may be subject to a penalty period of ineligibility for Medi-Cal benefits.