Can I pay back Medicare to keep them from taking my home?

Ewyucca asked...

I am on Disability and have Medicare and Medicad. I have recently been told that Medicare can take my home to pay back what I used and even more. The home is only in my name not my husband's. I am only 41 The best thing I ever did was to buy a house to leave to my children. Can I pay back what I used so far and just not have healthcare? Do I have to also pay back Disability and SSI? If that is even an option?

I can't go back in time to do things differently but I don't want my children to lose their childhood home. My attorney didn't advise me that this could happen. Part of my disability is that processing written information is difficult yet I wasn't given a case worker or anyone to help me make good choices. I am very sad to hear that our home will be taken. Please advise me on how I can undo this if possible.

Expert Answer

Good news -- your home will NOT be taken by Medicare or Medicaid, or by Social Security or SSI. And you don't have to pay back any money to anyone. You've heard a piece of information about Medicaid (not Medicare) "estate recovery" that applies to some Medicaid recipients but does not apply to you.

After someone dies who's been receiving Medicaid long-term care coverage (not regular Medicaid medical coverage), Medicaid can seek repayment of the funds it spent for the person's long-term care -- in a nursing home or in a home-and-community based program -- after the person had reached the age of 55. This money can be sought out of the value of the deceased Medicaid recipient's house, though not as long as the spouse is still living there. But this estate recovery does NOT apply to regular Medicaid coverage of medical care expenses (as opposed to long-term care) and does NOT apply to someone under age 55. So, from your description of your situation, the Medicaid estate recovery provisions would not apply to you (at least at this point in your life). As for Medicare, Social Security disability benefits, and SSI, none of them does estate recovery and cannot touch your house.

If you still have any concerns about this matter, contact the local office that handles your Medicaid eligibility and ask them for an appointment to see a Medicaid case worker to discuss your concerns in person.