Medi-Cal Eligibility for New Immigrants to California



Many people who are U.S. citizens for a long time or some people who recently become U.S. citizen sponsor their parents' green card so that they can come and live with them. At the time of sponsoring them, the sponsor has to show the proof of enough financial resources in form of Affidavit of Support and show that he/she is well above the federal poverty line for the given household size that includes their parents or anyone else who they sponsor. Such affidavit of support is required so that sponsor has to take their immigrant relatives responsibility and not be any kind of burden on the government, federal or state.


Please read the general information about the healthcare options and eligibility requirements for new immigrants first.


For ease of description, the following FAQ describes the common scenario for U.S. citizens who sponsor their parents from India to live with them in California. However, this FAQ applies to elderly immigrants from any other country, and not just parents but any other such relatives.


Q: What is Medi-Cal?
A: Medi-Cal is the California's Medicaid program for lower assets and low income people.

Q: What is the eligibility criteria to apply for Medi-Cal?

A: There are three eligibility criteria that must be met, in that order to qualify for Medi-Cal:

  1. You must be 65 years or older, blind or disabled.
  2. You must have the worldwide assets of $2,000 or less as an individual or $3,000 or less as a couple.
  3. Depending upon the type of program you can enroll in, your income is no more than anywhere from $830/month to $1,138/month and for couple up from $1,407.20/month to $1,536/month.

You must meet all of the above criteria to qualify.

Q: My parents are above 65 years of age. Are they eligible?
A: Only if they meet all the criteria as listed above.

Q: What is not included in counting the assets?

A: Primary home, one vehicle, household goods and personal belongings (such as clothes etc.), life insurance policy with a face value up to $1,500 per person, prepaid burial plan (unlimited if irrevocable or up to $1,500 if revocable) and burial plot.


Q: What is included in counting the assets?

A: Everything else that is not listed in the previous FAQ. Some examples are cash, fixed deposits, shares, bonds, provident fund, additional homes, additional vehicles, jewelry, business, warehouse, shop, or anything else.


Q: My parents just immigrated to the U.S. They don't have any assets in the U.S. Are they eligible?

A: You have to consider their worldwide assets. It is extremely unlikely that your parents don't have the assets of even Rs. 1,00,000 (one lakh Rupees) in India, if single or Rs. 1,50,000 (one and half lakh Rupees) if couple.


Q: How will they know if my parents have any assets in India?

A: How does the police know if you commit the murder? How does the income tax department know if you hide taxable income? Therefore, please don't ask such questions.


Q: Can my parents sell off their assets to qualify for Medi-Cal?

A: They still will have that much cash in the amount of value of their assets. Even if they were to donate all of their assets or spend all their money, they would still need to qualify the income criteria.


Q: My parents really don't have any assets at all anywhere in the world. They are retired and have no income. Are they eligible?

A: Income criteria is considered only if they pass the assets criteria. In case they have no assets, your income is still deemed to be their income for the purposes of determining the eligibility criteria. Make sure to read sponsor responsibilities and obligations.


Q: The conditions for eligibility criteria seem too restrictive to me. Are you sure?

A: Yes. The Medi-Cal program is really meant for really really poor people. It is not meant for the parents of the software engineer in the Silicon Valley who makes $100,000/year (just an example) and for his convenience, wants his parents to immigrate to the U.S. so that the family can live together. This may see harsh to you but when you sponsored them, you agreed to take their responsibility and you can't seek government assistance now.


Q: What if I just attempt to get Medi-Cal for my parents in case they don't check?

A: That is not recommended because if you are caught, you may face fines up to $10,000 and up to 2 years in state prison, in addition to being ordered to reimburse all the expenses the government had and for all the benefits that were paid.


Q: But many of my friends' parents have Medi-Cal who are in the same situation as I. How is that?
A: Just because someone has it does not necessarily mean they are eligible.

Q: I don't believe this FAQ. This seems bogus and made up just to scare people into buying the insurance you sell.

A: That is absolutely false. We have prepared this FAQ based on our extensive knowledge in dealing with such people on a regular basis. It is up to you whether to believe or not. If you decide to game the system and take your chances, we wish you good luck.


Important disclaimer: Please note that we have tried to answer the questions to the best of our knowledge. We make no guarantee of the accuracy of these answers, as actual answers may change from time to time as insurance companies change their policies or because of any other reason. We will not be liable in any case, for any problem arising out of reading these questions and answers. Please use this information at your own risk.