Congress has been heating up over another hot button issue in recent days: immigration. Securing the border, the status of long-term illegal immigration, and the apparent inhumanity of many deportations has made immigration a top priority in Obama’s second term. In California, the issues of both legal and illegal immigration are particularly acute. Current estimates project that Hispanics will overtake non-Hispanic whites as the majority in California at some time this year. Additionally, the number of non-Hispanic whites who will be age 50 or older is expected to increase to roughly 40%, while the Hispanic population is considerably younger.
At the same time, due to the expansion of Medicaid (Medi-Cal) under Obamacare and the increased number of individuals who will be purchasing health insurance pursuant to the insurance mandate, the demand for health care services will likely increase over the coming years. California was facing a possible shortage in health care professionals before Obamacare and increased demand for Medi-Cal services threatens to further tax the healthcare system. As a result, alternatives may need to be explored.
It is possible that immigration reform could resolve part of both issues. In order to care for the increased elderly population, young people will be necessary to act as physicians, nurses, and in-home caregivers. Hiring illegal immigrants to work as household employees is a violation of immigration and, frequently, tax law. However, with an improved path to citizenship or guest worker program, it may be possible to encourage enough individuals who enter the United States to work in various health fields and meet the increasing demand for service.
In the meantime, if you or a loved one is among the aging population, there are a number of actions you could take now in order to insulate yourself from extremely high medical bills. First, by preparing for your incapacity you can designate a family member or professional to care for your health and financial affairs. Doing so will avoid the need for costly court procedures during your life, particularly if a family member needs to decide to move you to a full time nursing care facility or sell your home.
Additionally, by planning for Medi-Cal eligibility, you may be able to minimize your own long-term healthcare costs and reduce the state’s ability to recover its costs from your estate. Through a QMap Trust, you can add flexibility to your estate with respect to your home, while preserving income tax benefits. Similarly, as a wartime veteran you may qualify VA healthcare benefits or VA Aid & Attendance Non-Service Connected Disability Pension which can provide over $24,000 per year to help with the cost of home healthcare.
As the general population ages, the nation’s policies will likely need to adapt across the board to account for larger Social Security and Medicare outlays, shortages of healthcare workers, and fewer younger workers who are paying taxes. By planning ahead, you can help ensure that you and your loved ones will have access to the care you need. By reviewing your plan regularly, you can verify that your long-term goals continue to be met.
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