On Wednesday September 8, the Kaiser Family Foundation held a forum examining the health care issues facing people with disabilities and the opportunities and challenges presented by the new health care reform law enacted earlier this year. The discussion explored the changes in health reform that could affect access to affordable health care for people with disabilities as well as the current and future role of the Medicare program in serving this population.
The basis of the discussion was a newly released survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation: Health Care Among Non Elderly People with Disabilities and Seniors on Medicare, 2008. The survey results were reported in the September edition of the Health Affairs Journal: Medicare Doesn’t Work as Well for Younger, Disabled Beneficiaries as it Does for Older Enrollees.
The survey found:
- Overall non-elderly disabled beneficiaries facer greater financial and access barriers compared to elderly Medicare beneficiaries.
- More non-elderly Part D enrollees reported medication access problems compared to elderly Part D enrollees.
- Most of the survey respondents were satisfied with their Medicare coverage.
- Non-elderly disabled Medicare beneficiaries have more health problems/ co-existing conditions compared to elderly beneficiaries.
- Non-elderly beneficiaries with no supplemental coverage were more likely to report having difficulty paying for coverage.
- 1/3 of non elderly disabled Medicare beneficiaries reported being uninsured during the 24 month Medicare waiting period. 46% of all respondents states that the government should do away with the 24 month waiting period.
Below are some of the ways the Affordable Care Act will help Medicare beneficiaries.
- Health care reform will help some in Medicare’s waiting period access coverage through the new national high risk pools.
- Expansion of Medicaid eligibility up to 133% of the poverty level.
- Starting in 2014 insurance companies will be required to provide coverage and health insurance exchanges will be available to help individuals purchase health insurance. The government will also provide subsidies (if you qualify) to assist with the cost of health insurance.
- The new insurance program, Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act will provide cash benefits for long terms services and supports for eligible participants.