A. Notice of Death
When a Medi-Cal beneficiary dies, the County Medi-Cal office notifies the Department of Health Services in Sacramento and benefits are terminated. However, for recovery purposes, the burden of notifying the State of the death is still on the beneficiary's estate. California law, under Probate Code §215, requires that, when a deceased person has received or may have received health care benefits or was the surviving spouse of a person who received such benefits, the estate attorney, the beneficiary of the estate, the personal representative or the person in possession of the property is required to notify the Director of the Department (at the Sacramento office of DHS) no later than 90 days after the person's death. A copy of the death certificate is required to be sent.
Although most consumers simply notify the County Medi-Cal Office, this does not count as proper notice and it is important that you send the notice and death certificate to the correct address, if you want the matter to be addressed in a timely manner. The notice of death and the death certificate should be sent by registered or certified mail to:
Director of Health Care Services,
Estate Recovery Unit, MS-4720,
P.O. BOX 997425,
Sacramento, CA 95899-7425.
B. Filing The Claim
If the estate is subject to probate or trust administration, the State has four months in which to file a claim. If a claim is not filed within this time, it is forever barred. However, many estates are not subject to probate or trust administration. In these cases, although the State has indicated its policy is to respond within four months, there is no law requiring this. By law, in non-probated estates, the Department must file a claim within three years of receipt of the notice of death.
C. Beware of Forms
The Recovery Unit has sent out a number of questionnaires to consumers implying that they are under a legal obligation to complete and return them. The only legal obligation under law is to send a notice of death and a copy of the death certificate when a deceased Medi-Cal beneficiary or the spouse of a deceased beneficiary dies. If the State has sent an estate claim, then the questionnaire is a way for them to find out what property, if any, is left in the deceased beneficiary's estate. If there was no property left in the deceased's name, then completion of the form (or an attached letter) should be an easy matter. Enclose a copy of the deed to show the property was transferred during the life of the beneficiary. If the estate is more complicated, then consumers should seek advise from their attorney, legal services or CANHR before completing and returning any questionnaires or forms.