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How to Make Sure You Qualify for Medicaid

Medicaid Eligibility: How To Qualify

Health insurance is at the forefront of everyone’s mind nowadays thanks to the pandemic. The current state of affairs means that elderly people and those who are immunocompromised will have to take extra precautions to ensure they stay safe, with demand for elder law attorneys in Los Angeles particularly strong.

Some health experts are hopeful that a vaccine will be found later this year, representatives from forecasting firm Good Judgment, Inc. suggest that a vaccine might still come out mid-2021.

Healthcare should be a human right, but the unfortunate truth is that there’s still a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to getting Medicaid coverage. To help address this issue, below is a quick overview of how to qualify for Medicaid. For those taking care of their elderly parents, this article will also tackle how to choose the right elderly care attorney in Los Angeles

Understanding Medicaid

Medicaid’s aim is to provide healthcare access to those with limited coverage; furthermore, it takes Medicare a step further by offering coverage for additional things like nursing home care and other long-term care solutions. Medicaid is funded by both the federal and state government, which is why some coverages may differ per state. 

California residents are eligible for the state’s Medi-Cal program. According to Medi-Cal’s website, this program is meant to help the following low-income individuals: 

  • Families with children
  • Senior citizens
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Those in foster care
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with specific diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and breast cancer

Such coverage makes applying for Medicaid an appealing option for many during these tough times, especially with work being hard to come by and the local economy still trying to get back on its feet. Furthermore, the focus on long-term care is a huge help to low-income individuals who might also be part of vulnerable groups. 

If you already have MediCARE, policy consultant and news writer Anne Tumlinson emphasizes that you’ll be able to keep the benefits of both programs. This means that while we still have a long way to go in making sure our healthcare policies are truly inclusive and accessible, taking advantage of programs like Medicaid is still better than having no insurance plan at all. 

Applying for Medicaid 

Of course, it goes without saying that Medicaid’s application processes need to be equally accessible in order to make sure those in need are able to access the right care. Individuals can apply via mail, on the phone, in person, or online. 

When it comes to applying online, individuals would do best to find the office within their county. Those who live within Los Angeles County can find the District office nearest to them in case the county office is too far. 

The Medi-Cal website states that the entire process from submitting your application to receiving your benefits card should take a total of 45 days. 

Concrete steps to make sure you qualify for Medicaid

It’s time to tackle the most important question: how do you make sure you can apply for Medicaid? Since the aim of the program is to provide assistance to the low-income bracket, your income is the biggest deciding factor when it comes to applying for Medicaid. 

The initial requirement to qualifying for Medicaid is that your annual income (before taxes) must be below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. According to PolicyGenius, this means that your income should be around $16,000 (individual applicants) to $72,000 (families of 12). 

Your assets are also taken into consideration, as you cannot have more than $2,000 in order to qualify for Medicaid. Since taking assets into consideration might be tricky, families of elderly individuals often seek out the help of elder law attorneys to help navigate this process. 

Case in point: recent census reports find that Orange County’s aging population is on the rise, which can pose serious problems should the COVID-19 pandemic continue. 

Partnering with reputable trust attorneys in Orange County can help elderly individuals and their family members figure out how to take care of their assets. In general, those with assets more than $2,000 have three options: 

  1. Spend these assets until they’re gone or their value reaches below $2,000. This isn’t the best alternative as it may take a bit of time, and Medicaid is something you should be investing in sooner rather than later.
  2. Gifting your assets. Gifting assets results in a penalty period. This period will be determined by dividing your assets’ value by your state’s penalty divisor. These divisors are updated annually as it depends on the average cost of nursing home care.
  3. Convert these assets to non-countable assets. Commercial annuities are your best bet for this, where you’ll enter an agreement with another party (such as a family member or insurance company) that pays you a regular income stream in exchange for a lump sum.

The viability of annuities depends on the current age and life expectancy of the applicant as well as the assets to be converted. Living trust attorneys in Orange County can help you navigate this. For instance, if the applicant dies before their life expectancy, payments will continue to be made to cover their Medicaid bill and will then be transferred to family members should there be anything left.

In practice, a half-and-half solution of gifts and annuities are the most common arrangement. Taking Orange County as a prime example, for a look into California’s aging population highlights the need for Orange County trust attorneys to help clients find the solution that best suits their family. 

In conclusion

This article tackles the tip of the iceberg when it comes to applying and qualifying for Medicaid. For elderly patients and those taking care of them, arranging for a Medicaid application alongside managing finances and taking care of other assets might be a challenge.

Don’t be hesitant to call McKenzie Legal and Financial services if you and your family are looking for trust attorneys in Orange County California; after all, choosing the right attorney is a crucial step in making sure this process goes as smoothly as possible.

Thomas McKenzie Law
Estate Planning Attorney in California. Full-service law firm specializing in estate plans, wills and trusts, long-term care, and financial consulting. Thomas L. McKenzie received his Juris Doctor degree from Western State University College of Law, in Fullerton, California. While working full-time at night and attending full-time daily classes, Tom graduated law school with honors in 1993.

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