Can Medicaid Seize Your Assets?

In 1993, concerned about rising Medicaid costs, Congress made it mandatory for states to try to recover money from the estates of people who used Medicaid for long-term care, which can cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per person. They included exceptions in cases in which there is a surviving spouse, a minor child and other situations.

Congress also gave states the option to go further — to target the estates of all Medicaid recipients for any benefits they received after age 55, including routine medical care. Many states took that route, including Oregon, which from July 2011 to June 2013 recovered $41 million from about 8,900 people.

The argument had been that “if you’re receiving a public benefit and the state is trying to support you, you should give back if you are able,” said Judy Mohr Peterson, Oregon’s Medicaid director. (Washington Post)

Comments (17)

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  1. John R. Graham says:

    This was actually a very good idea, because Medicaid has been abused by the eldercare industry of financial advisors. Middle-class seniors were able to shelter assets using various tactics, in order to sign up for Medicaid Long-Term Care (LTC), as examined by Steven Moses ( “Asset recovery” is a method to counter this.

    However, the Obamacare exchanges have been enrolling people in Medicaid without their choice. That is, they navigate the exchange website and – all of a sudden – get informed that they are enrolled in Medicaid! They find it very difficult to enroll.

    Some of these folks are approaching retirement and have not sheltered their assets because they have no intention of abusing Medicaid LTC. Now they are at risk of their heirs losing their inheritance because of this Medicaid pseudo auto-enrollment.

  2. Andrew says:

    “After you die, the state could come after your house.”

    While more people are eligible for Medicaid, they should (and most will) be apprehensive about signing up for coverage when their assets can be seized to recoup costs.

    • Matthew says:

      “Then, when I heard about the estate recovery, I was really sure.”

      Well there is one example of someone put off by the program’s “little known fact.”

  3. Thomas says:

    There are always major costs attributed to taking government handouts eventually. Expanding Medicaid is not the “be all end all” that the Obama Administration claim it to be.

  4. Walter Q. says:

    This has been in effect for 20 years now. We only now hear about it because soon everyone and their grandmother will want to sign up once Medicaid expansion happens.

  5. perry says:

    The question is will many of these people have any assets to seize anyway?

  6. Jay says:

    “if you’re receiving a public benefit and the state is trying to support you, you should give back if you are able,”

    Yeah so pay them back likely by way of heavily “used” assets.

  7. Bill B. says:

    “A 54-year-old former lawyer from New York City, said she did not enroll in Medicaid because she owns an $850,000 apartment she hopes to bequeath to a family member.”

    Why would a former lawyer with an expensive New York apartment even think of applying for Medicaid?