It wasnt the moonlight, holiday-season euphoria or family pressure that made Sophia Prins and Gary Balhorn, both 62, suddenly decide to get married.
It was the fine print.
As fine print is wont to do, it had buried itself in a long form Balhorns application for free health insurance through the expanded state Medicaid program. As the paperwork lay on the dining-room table in Port Townsend, Prins began reading.
She was shocked: If youre 55 or over, Medicaid can come back after youre dead and bill your estate for ordinary health-care expenses.
The way Prins saw it, that meant health insurance via Medicaid is hardly free for Washington residents 55 or older. Its a loan, one whose payback requirements arent well advertised. And it penalizes people who, despite having a low income, have managed to keep a home or some savings they hope to pass to heirs, Prins said.
With an estimated 223,000 adults seeking health insurance headed toward Washingtons expanded Medicaid program over the next three years, the states estate-recovery rules, which allow collection of nearly all medical expenses, have come under fire.