The Medi-Cal program is California’s version of Medicaid, and you may be aware of the fact that the program is a source of health insurance for people with very limited financial resources. If you have been traversing a successful career path with health insurance through your job, you probably don’t give much thought to the Medi-Cal program.
Plus, if you have paid into the program sufficiently throughout your life, you will qualify for Medicare as a source of health insurance when you reach the age of 65. As a result, Medi-Cal can seem like something that would not be relevant to you as a senior.
Medicare will certainly provide a foundation, but there are out-of-pocket expenses that you must budget for in advance. There are deductibles, co-payments, and monthly premiums that can add up.
In addition to these out-of-pocket expenses for things that are covered, there is another health care expense may enter the picture toward the latter stages of your life. Most seniors will need long-term care eventually, and Medicare does not pay for it.
Medi-Cal does pay for living assistance, and this is why it ultimately becomes quite relevant to many people who were never financially needy.
Community Spouse Resource Allowance
Since Medi-Cal is a need-based program, there is a $2000 limit on countable assets. However, some things that you own do not count, including your home, one vehicle, and your personal belongings.
There are also some protections in place for married couples when one spouse is applying for Medi-Cal to pay for long-term care while the other is still healthy enough to live independently. The healthy spouse is entitled to a Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This would equate to half of the couple’s shared assets that are countable.
In the state of California in 2015, the maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance is $119,220, and it is also the minimum. To explain the minimum, the healthy spouse could keep no less than $119,220, even if this is more than half of the total shared countable assets.
While we are examining the rights of the healthy spouse, we should also explain the Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. When someone applies for Medi-Cal to pay for long-term care, most of his or her income would go toward the cost of the care under program regulations. However, if the healthy spouse is relying on all or some of this income to maintain a reasonable standard of living, this requirement would be waived.
The healthy spouse could receive the income in the form of a Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance. The allowance for 2015 in California is $2981.
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