What Obamacare Really Does for Individuals with Disabilities

 July 17, 2012
Posted by M & L Special Needs Planning

You don’t have to be a political animal to be following the news on Obamacare.  And for those with disabilities, the Supreme
Court’s recent ruling to uphold the bill could certainly impact your life.

For the most part, the bill accomplishes the needs of people who live with disabilities – and a number of organizations such as the National Council on Disability, Easter Seals, the National Council on Independent Living and the United Spinal Association are on board and in favor.

One huge element of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is that people with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied insurance coverage – an issue that affects more than 17 million children in the U.S. alone.  In the past, the risk of this happening was very real – and it could affect the medical care and even the happiness of an individual or entire family.  Take for instance, someone who worked long hours at a job they hated.  If that person – or their spouse or child – had been treated for certain conditions within a given period of time, that health concern would be considered a “pre-existing
condition.”  So if the employee wanted to find a new job, they might get the job offer – but not be eligible to get health
insurance.  So they stay where they are because they can’t afford not to.  Under the new law, it would be illegal to deny that coverage.

Obamacare also prohibits policies that put a cap on coverage limits. In previous years, some insurance policies just plain stopped when certain coverage limits were reached. This amount may be determined as an annual amount or over a lifetime,
but when a patient has a disability and needs ongoing treatment, costs can add up in a hurry.  So previously, after that limit was reached, the insured was on their own.  And the old pre-existing condition caveat made it hard for the person to get a different insurance, many times leaving them with no insurance at all.

And lastly, Obamacare increases the age of young adults on the parent’s policy to 26. This is potentially a huge cost savings for young adults with or without a disability. In addition, depending on the health insurance carrier, an individual with
special needs may be able to stay on that coverage for life. This last statement is not new information, but important to recognize and check out prior to the age of 26 for an individual with disabilities.

Now, insurance plans have to provide decent coverage, too.  Sounds simplistic, but it’s important.  You want insurance that provides a certain level of care – annual physicals, mental health coverage and rehab services.  Yearly check-ups help your doctor to find and keep on top of any health problems.  Rehabilitation after an illness or injury gets people moving up and out and back to work sooner.  And while people often think they don’t need mental health coverage, all it takes is a serious illness or loss (of anything from a loved one to a job) to turn your world upside down.  You might be glad you have it.

The nation’s healthcare debate continues to rage on – with Democrats and Republicans each adding their own spin.  And each of them has some very valid points.  But one thing is clear – the ruling as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court will certainly have a positive effect on the lives of many people currently living with a disability.

 

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