One of the primary goals in Medi-Cal planning is to allow your elderly family to receive the care they need without losing all of their assets in the process. Long term care is often extremely expensive, especially when it involves skilled nursing care facilities or in-home care. Medi-Cal eases the burden for the ill in order to avoid financial ruin.
However, a new study from UCLA found that 57% of Medi-Cal caregivers are being paid at or near the poverty level. Medi-Cal caregivers are the bulk of California’s caregivers, comprising approximately two-thirds of the profession. Additionally, roughly one third of the caregivers do not even have health insurance! For that reason, the study found that they were more likely to go to the emergency room than other groups studied
Due to budget stresses, the state has been trying to cut Medi-Cal funding for the last several months. The cuts, blocked by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder in February and thwarted again by the same judge in March could drive more caregivers deeper into poverty. As part of the proposed cuts to Medi-Cal, in-home caregivers paid by IHSS could see their hours cut by 20%.
The study also found that medical debt is on the rise in California. Although the amount of debt per person was relatively low, there were 400,000 more non-elderly Californians with past due medical debt in 2009 than in 2007. Additionally, the study showed that those who lost their insurance during the year were the most likely to have debt, followed by the uninsured. Additionally, over 18% of Medi-Cal enrollees have medical debt as well.
While the two findings may seem unrelated to one another, they get to the same issue: planning for your healthcare now and in the future is important. If you are working in this volatile job market, you should consider how you could pay for unanticipated medical expenses if you lose your job and employer-provided health insurance. If you have an individual health care plan with a high-deductible, you should consider contributing to your Health Savings Account in order to create a “care nest egg” of sorts. You may even bring up the tax advantages of doing so with your tax advisor.
If you are older or your care needs are more immediate, you should consult with an attorney to determine your eligibility for Medi-Cal and Medi-Care, or VA Aid & Attendance Non Service Connected Pension. Proper planning for eligibility, which may include a QMap or QVap Trust, can ensure that you are not denied coverage due to look-back windows or other technicalities. However, it is important to remember that Medi-Cal funding is volatile as well. Even on its best days, these government programs may not fulfill all your healthcare needs. If it did, the study would not have found so many Medi-Cal enrollees with medical debt.
Supplementing government healthcare with effective long-term care insurance may alleviate or eliminate the burden of uncovered care. Regardless of your particular situation and needs, keeping track of your medical finances is an important part of your estate planning process.
VA Aid & Attendance–How Can I Correctly Choose Help for my Application Process?
FREE REPORT: This complimentary report focuses on the various kinds of people one can consult when applying for the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Who one chooses can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if you are denied, you may not be able to reapply for up to a year or longer. Download our complimentary report for a behind the scenes look at the different types of people you can consult and the dirty underbelly of the veterans aid & attendance industry.