Medi-Cal Recovery & Your Home

Medi-Cal is California’s free or low cost health insurance program for low-income or low-resource individuals. When a Medi-Cal recipient dies, the state can seek to recoup the cost of certain medical benefits paid for by the Medi-Cal program, against the deceased person’s estate. For most Medi-Cal recipients, the estate consists of nothing except for the family home.

For the past 20+ years, California law has allowed Medi-Cal claims on the estates of individuals who received any Medi-Cal benefits when they were 55 years of age or older, regardless of the medical services received, or whether recipients were in a nursing home.

However, there have been major positive changes to the Medi-Cal Recovery laws, based on legislation sponsored by CANHR, effective for individuals who die on or after January 1, 2017.

What is the New Law?

Medi-Cal Recovery will be limited for individuals who die on or after January 1, 2017. The new Recovery Law:

  • Prohibits claims on the estates of surviving spouses and registered domestic partners;
  • Limits recovery for those 55 years of age or older to nursing home and home and community based services;
  • Limits recovery to only those assets subject to probate under California law;
  • Restricts the amount of interest that the state can charge on liens;
  • Requires the state to waive the claim as a substantial hardship when the estate subject to recovery is a homestead of modest value, i.e., a home whose fair market value is 50 percent or less of the average price of homes in the county where the homestead is located; and
  • Requires the state to provide a current or former beneficiary or their authorized representative a copy of the amount of Medi-Cal expenses that may be recoverable.

For more details on the new Medi-Cal Recovery laws, and to understand your options to protect your home, download CANHR’s free booklet: The New Medi-Cal Recovery Laws: Effective January 1, 2017.