Obamacare: Marry or Lose Your Home? You’re Kidding. No, We’re Not.



The rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been wrought with problems. The most recent issue is one that is almost unbelievable.

Sofia Prins and Gary Balhorn are newly weds this week and not for the reasons you might think. Their nuptials were motivated by the desire to keep their house out of the hands of the federal government, thanks to a little known provision of Obamacare.


Their nuptials were motivated by a stronger desire to keep their house out of the hands of the federal government, thanks to a little-known key provision of Obamacare. Their meager incomes made them eligible for a federally subsidized health plan, and their assets would be protected.

Does Obamacare actually allow the federal government to seize homes and other assets? Before answering that question, let’s go back to what supposedly motivated the Obama administration and Democrats to pass the ACA in the first place.

For years, Democrats had demanded federal action to address the problem of Americans without health insurance coverage. Estimates of this population went from 14 million to 40 million during the debate in 2009-10 over the scope of the crisis and potential solutions for it.

Related: Government Blatantly Wastes $30 Billion this Year

While those numbers sound large, a Gallup poll in late 2009 put them in better perspective, noting that 85 percent of American adults had health insurance, 87 percent of whom were satisfied with their coverage, and 61 percent satisfied with the costs. Even among the uninsured, half were satisfied with their situation, although only 27 percent expressed satisfaction about their costs for health care.

Instead of designing a solution that focused on the half of the 15 percent who needed better options and leaving everyone else alone, Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill insisted on imposing an overhaul of the entire health-insurance industry. This includes, crucially, an unprecedented individual mandate to carry health-insurance coverage. The ACA contains a highly-complex series of subsidies that help working-class Americans pay the now-skyrocketing premiums caused by coverage mandates on insurers, but only down to a certain income level.

Below that point, Americans who do not have employer-based coverage have to accept Medicaid coverage in order to comply with the Obamacare individual mandate, or pay full price for the skyrocketing premiums from private-sector insurers.

People often confuse Medicaid with Medicare, but there is a critical difference between the two programs. Medicare eligibility derives from Social Security contributions, and is a true “entitlement” program. Theoretically, coverage comes as part of the funds paid into the system, although in reality the federal government has to borrow billions of dollars to cover the costs.

Related: The Many Disrupted Lives Under Obamacare

Medicaid, on the other hand, is a state-based and federally-subsidized welfare program, one that employs means-testing – which includes ownership of assets as well as income levels. Medicaid programs include conditions that put recipients’ assets remaining after death at risk for seizure to reimburse taxpayers who footed the bill for the recipient’s health care during his/her lifetime.

This was done to prevent fraud, to ensure that limited resources went to the truly needy, and to recapture resources to cover future costs. Until now, though, Medicaid was a voluntary program, and the vast majority of people who entered into it had few assets to risk by signing up.

Here’s where the law of unintended consequences comes into Obamacare. Thanks to the exchange programming, consumers are getting enrolled in Medicaid whether they understand what that means or not, and in much greater numbers than before. (In the first month, nearly 90 percent of all the enrollees in the federal and state exchanges were Medicaid applicants.)

Unless they look at the fine print in the paperwork in Washington and other states with similar asset-forfeiture regulations, any assets they own will not pass to their heirs but to the state instead.

Related: HealthCare.gov’s Back-Office Problems Move Front and Center

Prins and Balhorn are hardly alone in Washington. Adults between the ages of 50-64 account for 18 percent of the enrollments in the state’s Apple Health Medicaid program, and the seizure regulations apply in their cases for those 55 and older. The state exchange uses only income levels to means-test Washington applicants for the program, which means most of them will have no idea that their assets are at risk until it’s too late.

“People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, said in an interview. “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.”

Related: Insured Americans Blame Obamacare for Higher Premiums

That’s one of the problems of Obamacare itself – the perception that it’s a free lunch. Even those who do qualify for subsidies get that only through the collection of a myriad of taxes imposed by Obamacare. Those taxes apply to employers, insurers, and medical-device manufacturers, which drive up the costs for consumers and workers in indirect ways. It’s a shell game–not a reform that actually drives costs down. Instead Obamacare only masks price increases through dishonest opacity.

The problem here is the arrogance of the solution itself. Had the Obama administration focused on just those who could not get coverage because of income or pre-existing conditions, they could have expanded Medicaid in an intelligent manner while protecting existing assets, without disrupting the rest of the market.

That might still have been controversial and would not have been cost-free by any means, but it would not have fatally undermined a system that worked for 85 percent of Americans and misled many of the rest into risking their estates without any warning that government would strip their heirs of family homes.

Targeted and modest solutions minimize unintended consequences, and allow for more speed and efficiency when they do arise. Obamacare will serve for decades as the cautionary tale when arrogance rules over modesty and common sense.~YahooNews

  • Kamie D

    Nice job, Kimber.

  • SD


  • Randy Meador

    I believe you have your wires crossed medicare was taken from my check for a long time! That means its not a entitlement! Medicaid anyone with a low income can get it! Get your facts straight! SSi is a entitlement, social security is not! It is based on what you your self pay in! Wake up America , remove them democrats and liberals out of office! They are killing American and voting your rights away!

  • Ellzee Mason

    An “entitlement” literally means something you’re “entitled” to. In this case, you are entitled to medicare and Soc. Sec. because you paid into them all your life.
    The problem is all the people who think they are “entitled” to something that they have done nothing to earn. They have an entitlement mentality – even though in reality they are not entitled to anything at all.
    This is called semantics. The meaning of words matter. But the author wasn’t saying that you don’t deserve to get the medicare you paid into. You are entitled to medicare, but no one is entitled to Medicaid. (They just think they are!)

  • TwinkleStar2

    “Their nuptials were motivated by the desire to keep their house out of the hands of the federal government, thanks to a little known provision of Obamacare.” I don’t think the article explained why it was necessary for marriage to “keep their house out of the hands of the federal government.”

  • Brian Pierce

    The democrats are stacking the deck again with Medciad and promises of fixing immigration maybe another round of cell phones that cost $22,000 a yr for each cell phone. Obama did this all before without congtressional approval on the cell phones, In all actuality those cell phones cost the rest of us tax payers 5 Billion dollars, but it helped buy dems votes, wonder what there going to get next time a new Cadillac?

  • BoiseBoy

    Insurance Scam; How Private Insurance Companies Are Using Obamacare Fears To Rip People Off

    “How this scam works is that private insurance companies send out letters notifying existing customers that their current policy has been canceled, because of the ACA’s new requirements. They then offer customers a new, ACA compliant policy at far higher rates than what the customer would pay if he went through the ACA marketplace. Some insurance companies have pressed their customers to sign up for the new policies by a certain date, saying if they don’t, their health coverage will be lost.”

    Don’t just take what your insurance company says, be sure you shop on the exchanges.


  • Anonymous

    This is total BS!! It needs to be stopped!!

  • Mary Ann Thayer

    Medicare is a trust fund that you pay into before receiving benefits. Medicaid can be gotten even if you never worked a day in your life. There lies the big difference that those of us who paid into the program for 45-50 years before receiving benefits keep pointing out. The two programs have no comparison.

  • Josh

    So because I’m sick and actually can’t work and have to have SSI and Medicaid just to get by, I don’t deserve it? Thanks a lot, jerk. I absolutely hate Obamacare and want it fully repealed, but your comment is shortsighted and ridiculous.

  • dean53

    No, you don’t DESERVE to have your medical bills paid by your neighbors.

  • Lindsay Hayman

    I’m grateful I live in canada

  • Linda Jensen

    You should read the many intention violations of rights in Obama control disguised as health care. This is Nazi Germany all over again.

  • Bill Sanders

    Elizee is correct – YOU are wrong! I can’t believe 23 people up-voted your comment…

  • Freaksta

    your not too sick to sit at a computer and type apparently……..if you can sit here and read and comment you can certainly do the same for a living…….start a blog be a researcher, be an online customer service person, trade stocks, bonds , currency…..there are tons of jobs and ways to make a living by just using the same skills that you are using right here right now!

  • David Freeman

    If we get rid of all the jews this problem will go away with many others.

  • Chloe Rowles

    Entitlement—used to mean something we are entitled to, but the government has somehow reversed the meaning, by calling welfare and Medicaid ‘entitlements’. I agree, that social security is an entitlement because we worked for it and paid into the fund all of our working lives, so we are ‘entitled’ to it. Welfare, food stamp, and SSI recipients have NOT paid for their benefits, so they are not really ‘entitled’ to anything. Not only did we pay into SS, but we pay a premium for our Medicare which is deducted from our social security check every month.

    The problem with the ACA is that there is an income test but no ‘asset test’ for Medicaid in the Bill. (whereas there is both for eligibility for poverty level Medicaid). SO, some people are being switched to Medicaid due to their income level, even though they may have a lot of assets. Again, so when these people die, their estate will have to pay back to the government all of the insurance benefits paid out for them. NO ONE else has ever had to pay back insurance companies from inherited assets EVER. It basically forces these people to borrow from the government for their healthcare, and that is not insurance; it is a loan. It appears that they have no choice if private insurance is too expensive and they have to go on the exchange.

  • Roger Mullins

    This makes no sense… You never explained what getting married has to do with any of this or how it would have prevented loosing their home. I certainly home you are not paid to write this nonsense!

  • Chloe Rowles

    We are not saying you don’t deserve it, we are saying you didn’t ‘earn’ it… by paying into any fund, as social security recipients have. It is not an entitlement.

  • Chloe Rowles

    I don’t either, because there may be couples actually ‘divorcing’ to save on their insurance. The income cut off for subsidies is cheaper for 2 individuals living together than it is for a married couple. ( I guess some gays who fought so hard to get married. will now have to get divorced to save money)

  • Joy Cheek

    when my grandmother became ill at the age of 89- MEDICAID paid small amount(roughly $300.00) for her nursing care because her savings had been used up. She died & officials came to her home which was paid off more than 40 yrs before-changed the locks-2 weeks later auctioned off everything without consent from her children- made over $300,000.00 at auction of home & contents. None of her children got ANYTHING-not even pictures- want to tell me they wont take your home if you have received medicaid-i know it will happen-sell property & rent-then they wont get anything in return-your not taking it with you

  • Chloe Rowles

    You should have hired a lawyer….what they are supposed to do is send you a bill for the actual cost (that they paid out), and you HAVE to pay that… if you don’t, then I think they can confiscate the estate, but only for reimbursement. Something missing here. A friend had this happen when his mother died, and he had to pay the government around $10,000, but he got to keep all of her property. This was a new law which was enacted around 2008 (? I think)