Truth And Action

WA Medicaid + Obamacare: Seize Your Assets After Death

WA Medicaid + Obamacare: Seize Your Assets After Death

Expanded Medicaid’s fine print holds surprise in the state of Washington: after death the state can seize your assets for normal Medicaid expenses.

So, after your forced into Medicaid by Obamacare, the state can come along and bill you after death for normal Medicaid expenses.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, sums it up: its  “ a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.”

“People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Orient states “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.”

It wasn’t the moonlight, holiday-season euphoria or family pressure that made Sofia Prins and Gary Balhorn, both 62, suddenly decide to get married.

It was the fine print.

As fine print is wont to do, it had buried itself in a long form — Balhorn’s application for free health insurance through the expanded state Medicaid program. As the paperwork lay on the dining-room table in Port Townsend, Prins began reading.

She was shocked: If you’re 55 or over, Medicaid can come back after you’re dead and bill your estate for ordinary health-care expenses.

The way Prins saw it, that meant health insurance via Medicaid is hardly “free” for Washington residents 55 or older. It’s a loan, one whose payback requirements aren’t well advertised. And it penalizes people who, despite having a low income, have managed to keep a home or some savings they hope to pass to heirs, Prins said.

With an estimated 223,000 adults seeking health insurance headed toward Washington’s expanded Medicaid program over the next three years, the state’s estate-recovery rules, which allow collection of nearly all medical expenses, have come under fire.

Medicaid, in keeping with federal policy, has long tapped into estates. But because most low-income adults without disabilities could not qualify for typical medical coverage through Medicaid, recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.

The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed that. Now many more low-income residents will qualify for Medicaid, called Apple Health in Washington state.

But if they qualify for Medicaid, they’re not eligible for tax credits to subsidize a private health plan under the ACA, which requires all adults to have health insurance by March 31.

Prins, an artist, and Balhorn, a retired fisherman-turned-tango instructor, separately qualified for health insurance through Medicaid based on their sole incomes.

But if they were married, they calculated, they could “just squeak by” with enough income to qualify for a subsidized health plan — and avoid any encumbrance on the home they hope to leave to Prins’ two sons.

“We’re happy to be getting married,” Prins said last week. “Unfortunately not everyone has such an elegant solution to the problem.”

For Washington state, the solution has been much more complicated.

Over the past month, as lawmakers began hearing from worried and angry constituents, state officials began exploring what it would take to fix this collision of state rules with the ACA.

Late Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and the state Medicaid office said they plan to draft an emergency rule to limit estate recovery to long-term care and related medical expenses.

They hope to be able to change the rules before coverage begins Jan. 1.

Fixing the problem will cost the state about $3 million a year, said Dr. Bob Crittenden, Inslee’s senior health-policy adviser, but it’s the right thing to do.

“There was no intent on the part of the ACA to do estate recovery on people going into Medicaid (for health insurance),” Crittenden said. “The idea was to expand coverage.”

Unpleasant surprise

People in their 50s and 60s make up about 30 percent of the adults who have signed up for health insurance through Washington’s exchange marketplace, and about 18 percent of adults who have enrolled in health insurance through Apple Health.

Some 55- to 64-year-olds, who may have taken early retirement or who were laid off during the recession, have found themselves plunged into a low-income bracket. Unlike Medicaid recipients in the past — who were required to reduce their assets to qualify — they’re more likely to have a home or other assets.

For health coverage through Medicaid, income is now the only financial requirement.

At first, Prins was pleased at the prospect of free coverage.

But the more she thought about the fine print, the more upset she got. Why was this provision only for people age 55 and older? Why should those insured by Medicaid have to pay back health expenses from their estates when people with just a bit more income who get federal subsidies don’t? Why didn’t she and Balhorn know about this before getting to the application stage?

As Prins began searching for answers, she found that even those trained to help people sign up for insurance under the ACA weren’t aware of this provision, nor were some government officials.

Around the country, the issue has sizzled away in blogs and commentaries from both right and left. The National Women’s Law Center noted the ACA and its regulations prohibit age discrimination in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writing in the The Washington Times, called the recovery provision “a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.”

“People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Orient said in an interview. “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.”



  1. Lisa Copeland
    Lisa Copeland May 28, 07:07

    THis is one of those little details the government didn’t tell ya , how do you like it now ??

    Reply to this comment
  2. Karen Elder
    Karen Elder May 28, 07:42

    Ridiculous! Just another way to rip off the people!

    Reply to this comment
  3. JoAnn Rich
    JoAnn Rich May 28, 07:47

    I don’t have any assets for them to take.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Carol Sutton Baranowsky
    Carol Sutton Baranowsky May 28, 07:58

    As usual……they know that noone ever reads the fine print unless you are a conservative!

    Reply to this comment
  5. William LaSalle
    William LaSalle May 28, 08:39

    What kind of idiots would have embassy’s in Libya?

    The Talking Points about the Terrorist Attack at Benghazi were and still are lies, Obstruction of Justice, and Treason and the reason the guys responsible for the Terrorism and Murders at Benghazi never received Justice.

    Arrest Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Barrack Obama for Treason.

    No Incumbents.

    Reply to this comment
  6. William LaSalle
    William LaSalle May 28, 08:39

    Repeal Obamacare. The Delays in the Obamacare Scam are only good for the Incumbents. Vote every one of them out. Obama is still in office

    Reply to this comment
  7. Ruth Elliott
    Ruth Elliott May 28, 08:40

    Even if they DID read it though Carol, they STILL DON’T CARE! IT’S CHEAPER NOW!!!!!!! THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Charlie Attebery
    Charlie Attebery May 28, 08:56

    obamacare will break you and your decendants any way they can

    Reply to this comment
  9. John Johnson
    John Johnson May 28, 08:59

    Same thing happens in California and has for decades.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Rebecca Adcock
    Rebecca Adcock May 28, 10:55

    Knew that was his game plan

    Reply to this comment
  11. Jody Laudermilk
    Jody Laudermilk May 28, 12:01

    Same in Oregon

    Reply to this comment
  12. Jody Laudermilk
    Jody Laudermilk May 28, 12:03

    Has been this way for decades. .nothing to do with Obamacare.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Marc Van Ditto
    Marc Van Ditto May 28, 12:07

    It happened to my mother. She was poor and only owned a small house worth at the time very little. She was forced to sell at death and pay the money back that she used from medicaid. This has nothing to do with Obama care. This was the State of Washington law.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Debra Scott Hierlmeier
    Debra Scott Hierlmeier May 28, 12:47

    I maybe wrong, but having worked in skilled care it seems that in order for Medicaid to pay you have to have less than 2500 or some similar amount in assets. I have seen people forced to leave due to lack of funds or max on Medicaid.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Hank Yohe
    Hank Yohe May 28, 12:58

    The LEFT Coast!

    Reply to this comment
  16. John Dornilluminati
    John Dornilluminati May 29, 02:41

    Belong to the illuminate foundation world wide in all over the world,,
    get wealth,fame.and security….if so intrested contact via or Emial,, or call UNITED STATE +13034081632,SOUTH AFRICA +27786319556 NIGERIA +2348110861357……….

    Reply to this comment
  17. Matthew Van Camp
    Matthew Van Camp May 29, 04:27


    Reply to this comment
  18. Stanley Cullen
    Stanley Cullen May 29, 10:19

    Can this be true? How dreadful! Liz

    Reply to this comment
  19. grosfillex
    grosfillex July 31, 00:38

    Replacing wood garden furniture due to a few scratches is wasteful.
    They are supplied as different product lines of furniture manufacturers.
    For firefighters, being exposed to furniture smoke during fires means an increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like chlorinated
    Tris and penta – BDE.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Constance Vaughn
    Constance Vaughn August 01, 14:43

    This is in many states now.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Truth And Action
    Truth And Action August 13, 16:49 says:
    “whoah this weblog is excellent i like studying your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You recognize, lots of people
    are searching round for this information, you could aid them greatly.”

    Reply to this comment
  22. August 13, 16:49

    whoah this weblog is excellent i like studying your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You recognize, lots of people
    are searching round for this information, you could aid them greatly.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Lisa Hawks
    Lisa Hawks August 13, 19:48

    such bs…gonna screw the people no matter what

    Reply to this comment
  24. Laura Jean Cray-Radomski
    Laura Jean Cray-Radomski August 14, 03:32


    Reply to this comment
  25. Chris Awol
    Chris Awol August 14, 05:19


    Reply to this comment
  26. Barb Weber
    Barb Weber August 14, 07:28

    So Medicare is Obamacare? I’m wondering now.

    Reply to this comment
  27. Tim Weir
    Tim Weir August 14, 08:34

    Families need to disburse the estate before they can get their damn hands on it!

    Reply to this comment
  28. Daisy Reynolds
    Daisy Reynolds August 14, 09:38

    Washington is the most money hungery state in the us

    Reply to this comment
  29. Annie A Lien
    Annie A Lien August 14, 11:23

    Is there any other states that do this?

    Reply to this comment
  30. Garrey McVicker
    Garrey McVicker August 14, 16:43

    if one state has it they all might

    Reply to this comment

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked *