Medi-Cal is designed to help pay for the medical care of public assistance recipients and other low-income people with few assets.  Medicare, on the other hand, provides medical benefits for the elderly and disabled.  A crucial difference between Medicare and Medi-Cal coverage is that Medicare makes only limited payments for skilled nursing home care, while Medi-Cal pays for custodial nursing home care indefinitely.

Eligibility for Medi-Cal is determined by need.  Certain types of property are exempt and, if a person’s remaining resources are still too high for eligibility, it may be possible to “spend down” the resources or convert them into exempt resources.

Exempt Assets include:                                            

  • Principal Residence (“intent to return”)
  • Automobile
  • Burial Plots or Burial Contracts
  • Property Used in Trade or Business
  • Property Used for Self-Support
  • Personal Belongings/Furnishing
  • Term Insurance
  • IRAs & 401(k) If Meets Criteria
    • (Spouse IRA Always Exempt)
  • Certain Annuities
  • Cash Value Life Insurance $1,500

Non-Exempt Assets include:

  • Real Estate (not residence)
  • Cash
    • Checking
    • Savings
    • Certificates of Deposit
  • Stocks, Bonds
  • US Savings Bonds