Did you know that if you are a Medi-Cal recipient and are age 55 or older, the government can demand a payment from your estate if you pass away with medical costs?
This is called estate recovery. Unfortunately, many families do not find this out until it happens to them. Medi-Cal is California’s version of the federal Medicaid program, which provides healthcare services for low-income individuals.
Even if a Medi-Cal recipient never uses medical coverage, California’s Department of Health Care Services may still come to collect on the costs of the monthly payments that Medi-Cal makes for care plans to cover its enrollees.
This means that families who are still grieving the loss of a loved one may be suddenly hit with a bill attempting to recover thousands in medical costs incurred for simply being a Medi-Cal enrollee.
Fortunately for families aggrieved by the state’s Estate Recovery Program, there are some rule changes for 2017. If a Medi-Cal enrollee dies on or after January 1, 2017, new regulations will significantly cut down what the federal government can collect from the enrollee’s estate after death.
According to Patricia McGinnis, the executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, “People who are 55 and over don’t have to worry nearly as much about Medi-Cal recovery now,” than in previous years.
States are required by the federal government to recover medical costs from Medi-Cal and Medicaid recipients, with these costs usually related to nursing home care.
Before these rule changes, California could recover from nearly all Medi-Cal coverage received after the age of 55, and in fact, was one of several states that went beyond the federal Medicaid mandate for seeking repayment.
In the fiscal year from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016 alone, California collected nearly $70 million through its estate recovery program, according to spokesman Tony Cava of the Department of Health Care Services.