Just so you know, I opted to skip the whole “Of course it’s not free. Nothing is” part, so I could get right to the point…

It’s called “estate recovery” and although it’s been around for 20 years, most Americans have never heard of it. Sadly, this arcane bit of Medicaid fine print is about to become much more familiar. Basically, what it says is this: If you’re over 55 and are on Medicaid, when you die the state can seize your assets in an effort to repay the cost of your care.

In the past it didn’t affect too many people, because “asset tests” were included in the Medicaid enrollment requirements. The bar varied significantly from state to state, but the gist of it was that if your assets rose above a certain level you were disqualified, reagrdless of your income.

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