When you are ready to retire, you will have to prepare for the loss of your private health insurance. With rare exceptions for executives and other highly-compensated professionals, most retired adults depend on Medicare for their basic health care needs.
For some older adults, Medicare will be sufficient. It will cover their basic annual doctor appointments, and supplemental plans can help them cover their prescription drug costs. For others, unfortunately, Medicare will not be enough. Maybe they need a six-month stay at a rehabilitation facility following a failed hip implant, or perhaps they need to move into a nursing home following a diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.
Medicare will not cover those costs, but Medi-Cal will. How can you increase your chances of getting medical benefits when you need them?
Advance planning is crucial
Medi-Cal benefits are needs-based, which means you need to show that both your personal income and personal assets are below a specific threshold. With the exception of your primary residence and a few other assets, almost any property in your name will count against you when you apply.
The assets that do not diminish your eligibility will be vulnerable to estate recovery claims after your death. Advance planning allows you to change the ownership of your home and other most valuable property so that you can qualify quickly if you need Medi-Cal benefits.
The state will look back at 60 months or five years of financial records when you apply, which means that it is crucial to engage in the planning process years before you think you may need to live in a nursing home. When you move your most valuable assets to a trust or change their ownership so that they are not solely in your name, you will have an easier time qualifying for benefits if you need them.
You can also rest assured that those assets won’t be as vulnerable to estate recovery claims as they might otherwise be.
Retirement savings may not be sufficient for your needs
Even if you have a robust retirement account and Social Security benefits as well, your resources may fall far short of the thousands of dollars necessary to pay for each month of nursing home care, even in a shared room. Medi-Cal is a crucial tool for the financial stability and medical safety of those preparing for retirement in California.
Learning more about Medi-Cal eligibility will help you better plan for your golden years.