After death: Could Medicaid have requested payment as restitution for medical expenses?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
Spectacle asked...

My father died 10 years ago & my mother passed away 2 yrs. ago. They were both on medicaid, neither were ever in a nursing home, both lived in the home until death. They had no assets, except for the home, upon their death, my brother tells us that he received a bill for $75.000, as restitution for their medical expenses, as a result he cannot give the rest of the siblings their share of any of the small amount of property. We have seen no paperwork, & since he was the sole heir, does not intend to show us anything. My parents were naive and thought he would do the right thing. Could medicaid have sent such a bill to him? They lived in South Carolina.

Expert Answers

As long as your mother was living in her house, the state's Medicaid program could not attempt to collect from the value of the house any amount it had spent for the medical expenses of your father. Once your mother died, however, the state Medicaid program had a right to collect -- and usually tries to do so by placing a lien on the house -- for amounts it had spent for BOTH your mother and your father.

Even though neither of your parents was ever in a nursing home paid for by Medicaid, the state Medicaid program can still collect repayment from their estate of any amounts they spent for medical expenses after each of them reached age 55. Some state Medicaid programs only collect for institutional (nursing home) or in-home long term care services, plus related hospitalizations and prescription medications. However, a state Medicaid program is legally entitled to collect any amount it spent for ANY type of medical care for persons age 55 and over. If your parents each received Medicaid coverage for a number of years after each of them turned age 55, then the amount the South Carolina state Medicaid program could recover might easily reach $75,000, given the high cost of medical care. The exact amount depends on what specific types of medical benefits the Medicaid program seeks reimbursement for in that state.