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Authored by Boyce Hinman, founder and director of the California Communities United Institute, and member of Marriage Equality USA. Hinman has been writing and posting a series, "Monday Morning Marriage Memo," as part of his Anatomy for Justice blog. This article was first published there, and is republished here with the author’s permission. Hinman resides in and serves California, therefore the posts sometimes have a California slant.
NOTE: Marriage Equality USA is not a legal firm or a tax/accounting firm. No action should be taken based solely on the content of our news blog or website.
People who are thinking of getting married, and who are receiving assistance from Medi-Cal, or may want to apply for it, should carefully consider their marriage plans. In some cases, getting married might disqualify them for Medi-Cal.
Medi-Cal is a program which provides health insurance to those with very low income in California. It can help people pay for doctor’s visits, medications, lab tests and xrays, hospital care and surgery charges and skilled nursing home care.
I am not an attorney or a qualified tax expert. No action should be taken based solely on the content of these memos. However, I hope the memos will help you ask the right questions of people who are qualified in these issues.
Medi-Cal has income limits for qualifying for the program. To qualify for Medi-Cal the applicant’s income must be less than 138% of the federal poverty level. For calendar year 2014, that means a single person must make less than $1,322 per month, or a couple must earn less than $1,784 per month, to be eligible.
As you can see, the income limit for a couple is considerably less than for two single people. So, the income limits mean that two people on limited income might consider not getting married so they both will remain eligible for Medi-Cal.
Medi-Cal also has property limits. That is, the value of property owned by a person or couple applying for Medi-Cal must not be worth more than a certain amount. For one person that value limit is $3,000. For two people (such as a married couple) the amount is the same.
So here is an example of how these property limits might hurt a couple that gets married. Suppose two individuals each own $2,900 worth of property. If each of them were single, each of them would meet the asset test. Neither of them would be disqualified for owning too much property. If they married, each of them would fail that test and be disqualified.
There are other requirements that people must meet to qualify for Medi-Cal. But the income and asset tests should be considered when people on limited income are considering getting married.
To see a list of the other requirements,direct your browser to the following address.