Bride-to-be paralyzed after prank gone wrong: Forced to choose marriage or Medicaid

Although this tragic story does not involve “elder law” per se, it does highlight the strict eligibility rules that Medicaid recipients must adhere to. Moreover, it perhaps calls into question some of the policies that may bring about unintended restraints. In this case, tragically the restriction is the ability to get married. 

In just an instant, a bride-to-be was paralyzed by a bachelorette party prank gone awry. Some of the best friends of the 25-year-old fitness instructor shoved her into a pool, just as they had numerous times before. On this occasion, the result was not hilarity. Bride-to-be Rachelle knew at the instant she hit the concrete that she was paralyzed. 

The spinal cord injury Rachelle suffered prevents her from feeling below the collarbone. She is unable to walk, and doctors believe she may never again do so.

Just as tragic as the injury is one of the consequences following that fateful night. Rachelle relies on Medicaid to pay for her enormous medical bills. If not for Medicaid, Rachelle would be buried in debt for life. But the Medicaid she does receive comes at a huge price. The benefits she receives are contingent on her level of income. If she marries her would-be husband, their combined incomes would lead to forfeiture of her benefits.
Is it time to look at new Medicaid rules regarding disabled young couples? Certainly, the goal of medicaid is not to prevent couples from marrying. Check back for more updates related to this story.

Read the CNN and Daily Mail article for more.

Print This Page
About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.