Medicare will cover up to 100 days of long-term care, but in most cases the nursing home will try to evict the resident after 20 to 30 days, and sometimes even earlier.


By James Ward

James Ward

First off, let’s clarify: Medicare is a federal program and it’s the same everywhere; Medicaid is a federal program administered through the states and every state has their own rules; Medi-Cal is Medicaid in California, but our rules are very different from other states.

There are several different Medi-Cal programs, but here we’re addressing the Medi-Cal program to have the government cover the cost of the skilled nursing facility. How much does a nursing home cost? In Silicon Valley, the cost for a skilled nursing home ranges from about $11,500 to $15,000 per month. That will eat up the money of most people in a very short amount of time, but we can help. We can help if people come to us early enough while the elder is still capable of signing legal documents, and we can help if the elder planned in advance and has already given their spouse or another trusted individual the authority to make the estate plan changes when the time comes.

Medicare has you covered — Not true. Medicare is a great program, but it doesn’t cover long-term care. That’s a simple fact. Medicare will not cover long-term care. Medicare will cover up to 100 days of long-term care, but in most cases the nursing home will try to evict the resident after 20 to 30 days, and sometimes even earlier.

I’ll never qualify for Medi-Cal — Not true. Almost everyone can qualify for Medi-Cal to cover the expense of their long-term care as long as they can still sign new estate planning documents, or the elder planned ahead and their existing estate planning documents will allow a trusted person to make the necessary changes and get them qualified for Medi-Cal coverage.

Medi-Cal is only for poor people — Not true. Medi-Cal is for impoverished people and also for those who use qualified advisors and actually plan ahead. I’ve helped people save hundreds of thousands of dollars by using Medi-Cal planning, and I’ve also seen people throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars due to lack of knowledge and lack of proper planning. Too many people simply don’t know that specialized planning can be done to get elders on Medi-Cal and have the government help with the costs of long-term care. It’s legal, and we do it on a regular basis.

Medi-Cal will take everything I have — Not true. With proper planning, the state gets almost nothing, and the elder’s assets can pass as they wish to their heirs following the death of the elder. Knowledgeable people, with the assistance of the right elder law attorney, do this all the time to protect the elder’s assets.

Medi-Cal nursing homes are the worst ones — Not true. I had a woman check out more than 10 different nursing homes, and she put her husband in the one she felt was the absolute cleanest. It was a Medi-Cal approved facility, and she said it was sparkling clean.

Another client had her mother in a nursing home in Los Gatos and paid over $1 million out of pocket, and then, upon her mother’s death, she found out that I could have saved her about $900,000 or more with Medi-Cal, and the mother could have stayed at the very same nursing home where she had spent all those years.

If I make any gifts, I have to wait for five years before I qualify or Medi-Cal — Not true. While most states have a 60-month waiting period, California has a 30-month waiting period, but the California gifting rules allow us to shorten this period to just one or two months in most cases. Experienced Medi-Cal planning attorneys know how to get this done properly.

If I get Medi-Cal assistance, the state will take my home — Not true. I have had people lose their parent’s home after the parent died and owed repayment to Medi-Cal, but this was because the planning wasn’t done right! It’s because the attorney who did the planning wasn’t a qualified Medi-Cal planning attorney. — If you don’t do it right, the family can end up with a devastating result. Don’t let that happen in your family.

I can’t qualify for Medi-Cal if I own my home — Not true. It used to be more difficult to protect the elder’s home, but the law changed a few years ago and it’s much easier now to protect the elder’s residence. And don’t let the nursing home fool you. In many cases, the nursing home will tell the family that the elder can’t qualify for Medi-Cal because they own their own home, but that simply isn’t true. Meet with a qualified Medi-Cal attorney and learn the facts.

I don’t need a specialized attorney to do Medi-Cal planning — Not true. Medi-Cal planning is a specialty. If it isn’t done properly, the family can have devastating results. I’ve seen families needlessly pay over $1,000,000 for their mother’s care, and I’ve seen families needlessly lose a $1,000,000 home to Medi-Cal repayment (estate recovery laws) because the mother’s trust wasn’t done right. Make sure you’re dealing with an experienced Medi-Cal planning attorney who knows what they’re doing.

James Ward
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