Medical expenses can be complex for Domestic Partners – Portland, Oregon

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The Medicaid Planning attorneys with Nay & Friedenberg discuss different options for a blended family’s planning needs.

The cost of medical care can be significant. One stay in the hospital could mean a $30,000 to $100,000 bill or more.  This is particularly an issue for older couples. But even for younger people there are concerns about the responsibility for a domestic partner’s care costs.

First, a medical decision maker for someone else does not make one responsible for the medical bills of that person. An exception applies to the parent of a minor child. If you are a legal guardian for an adult, you are not responsible for paying for his or her care costs.

There is long-standing law in the state of Oregon that says there are some liabilities for which a spouse is responsible. This includes hospital bills and other medical expenses. It may not include credit cards or other types of consumer debt, unless this debt was for medical or basic food or shelter needs. This means that if one partner goes into the hospital and runs up a large bill that he or she cannot pay, collection agencies will go after both partners. Of course, when these laws were written, there was no such thing as a registered domestic partner, but now everything under state law that applies to a spouse equally applies to a registered domestic partner.

The best advice is for both partners to have solid health insurance. If one person has assets and the other doesn’t and the one without the assets does not have health insurance, registering as domestic partners may not be a good option.

If good health insurance is not possible, the rules of government programs such as Medicaid and the Oregon Health Plan do not recognize domestic partners. This is because federal law trumps Oregon law. As a result, domestic partners are treated as single individuals. Based on whether the individual has or does not have assets it will affect his or her eligibility for the program. Further, because Oregon liability law may extend to domestic partners, there may also be additional liability without government benefits.

An experienced Medicaid planning attorney makes all the difference in making sure you have a proper plan for your blended family’s needs. Contact the Medicaid planning attorneys with the Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg in Portland, Oregon at (503) 245-0894 to set an appointment.