As of July 1, 2022, Medi-Cal’s asset limit is increasing to $130,000/$195,000 per individual/couple, and $65,000 per additional family member. This is a significant and welcome increase from the current limits of $2,000/$3,000 per individual/couple. Medi-Cal’s asset limits have not changed since 1989, so this is a huge victory finally coming to fruition. Yes! Let’s celebrate!
Below are some commonly asked questions we’ve been receiving about this momentous change.
Which Medi-Cal programs are affected by the asset limit increase?
As mentioned in our previous articles, this change affects all non-expansion Medi-Cal programs. (Note that those enrolled in Medi-Cal expansion programs already do not have an asset limit). These non-expansion programs include:
- Aged, Blind, and Disabled,
- Medi-Cal with a Share of Cost,
- 250% Working Disabled Program,
- Long-term care, and
- Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs).
The Medicare Savings Programs include: Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), Qualified Income (QI), and Qualifed Disabled Working Individual (QDWI) programs. The MSPs help Medicare beneficiaries with low-income pay for Medicare’s out-of-pocket expenses, such as premiums and cost-sharing.
Unfortunately this asset limit increase and eventual elimination in Medi-Cal does not affect the asset limit in Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSI program is a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration. So while individuals who have SSI could qualify for Medi-Cal if they have resources higher than $2,000, they would lose eligibility for SSI if they have higher resources for any month their resources go above the SSI limit. We and other advocates nationwide are working to change this.
Are there other changes in Medi-Cal to be aware of?
Medi-Cal income guidelines and share of cost calculations will remain the same, as recently stated in our partner’s, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), recent fact sheet on the Medi-Cal asset increase for seniors and people with disabilities.
The rules for exempt and non- exempt assets will also remain the same. (You can see CANHR’s fact sheet on these rules here). In general, counted assets include cash, money in a banking account, more than one vehicle, or a home or land that the person does not live in. Exempt assets include a home, if the Medi-Cal applicant or recipient lives in the home, one vehicle or personal item, such as a television, or other household items. As of January 1, 2024, however, when Medi-Cal’s asset limit is fully eliminated, the ownership of a home, more than one vehicle, or the amount of money and savings in a banking account, will not be taken into account for Medi-Cal benefts.
In addition, Medi-Cal’s recovery rules will remain the same. Unfortunately, federal law requires Medicaid agencies to recoup payments for certain Medicaid/Medi-Cal benefits, long-term care, and home and community-based services for some Medi-Cal beneficiaries, so this will continue to apply. If you are concerned about the State making a claim on your estate or that of a loved one, there are ways to protect your home and other assets from Medi-Cal recovery; see CANHR’s information on Medi-Cal’s recovery laws, available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Is the asset limit increase retroactive to July 1, 2022?
No, this asset limit increase begins as of July 1, 2022. That said, people already on Medi-Cal can begin saving extra money before then. Due to the current Public Health Emergency (PHE), the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is not allowed to terminate anyone’s current Medi-Cal as no redeterminations are taking place. Note that the current COVID-19 PHE will expire on July 15, 2022.
Will the long term care transfer penalty still apply?
Yes, the transfer penalty will remain the same, but with the higher asset limit.
What about spousal impoverishment rules? Will they change?
These rules will also remain the same but with the higher asset limit. See CAHNR’s fact sheet for more info.
For more information, see:
- CANHR’s fact sheet: California Medi-Cal Asset Limit Increasing for Seniors and People with Disabilities
- Justice in Aging’s Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet
- Western Center on Law and Poverty fact sheet
- Our other articles: Important Changes Happening to Medi-Cal in 2022 and Medi-Cal’s Asset Test to Be Mostly Eliminated by July 1, 2022