Target: Darin J. Gordon, President of the National Association of Medicaid Directors
Goal: Stop billing the estates of deceased Medicaid users
When you’re struggling with health problems, fine print is the last of your worries–usually. But for anyone enrolling in the expanded Medicaid plan, which offers assistance with general health care in addition to long-term care, reading the fine print is absolutely crucial. If you don’t, you could end up owing money beyond the grave.
For individuals 55 years or older, this rule could be very costly. Called Estate Recovery, the rule lets the hospitals bill the estates of recently deceased low-income individuals for routine fees that it could not collect while the person was alive due to their low income. Previously, Estate Recovery was only used to retroactively pay for the costs of long-term care.
The death of a loved one is a hard enough burden to bear emotionally. As such, it shouldn’t be financially disastrous, too, especially when it comes to bills for routine hospital procedures. Often, surviving family members rely on the sale of a person’s home to pay for other, more necessary expenses, such as the funeral or legal services.
Furthermore, even if a person does read the fine print, many people have no other option than to sign up for Medicaid. Adults are required to have health insurance by March 2013. Health care is a fundamental human right and something to which all aging adults need access. Medicaid, medical care for qualifying low-income individuals, is unfairly acting as a lender–promising individuals who cannot afford it immediate access to necessary health care services, only to come knocking once they pass away.
Blindsiding low-income seniors is not the way to guarantee payment for services. If Medicaid is going to charge individuals, it needs to do so when the person is living. Furthermore, people need access to truly free medical care now.
Dear Darin J. Gordon,
Health care is a universal human right. Yet for millions of Americans, access to health care is not easy. Medicaid exists to ease the burden of health insurance for qualifying low-income individuals.
As Medicaid expands its coverage, however, it has stopped existing as a realistic low-income health care option and has started acting primarily as a loan agency. Customer service representatives for Medicaid refuse to put it in those terms, of course, but that is exactly what is occurring. Instead of billing people for routine hospital expenses while they are alive, Medicaid is waiting until users 55 years or older pass away and then it is charging the deceased user’s estate with the bills.
This is not ethical. Sneaking a rule like this into the fine print for new enrolling users is unfair to users who might not be able to read the fine print and might not understand to what they are agreeing. Furthermore, it can complicate the division of a person’s will if they do not understand that their estate will be billed for their hospital expenses acquired under Medicaid.
Please end this confusing and unethical practice now. Please let Medicaid users rest safe, knowing that Medicaid will cover them–during this life and beyond the grave.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Images_of_Money via Flickr