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Disability and the new health care exchanges

Individuals receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits may have concerns about how the new healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act might affect their coverage.

As a preliminary matter, federal law generally ensures that people with disabilities are eligible for coverage under traditional group insurance policies. Of course, a disability is not the same thing as being unhealthy or sick. In other words, disabled individuals may require special treatments are services that are beyond the scope of traditional medical coverage. Such treatments may even include physical therapy and other forms of bodywork.

The new healthcare exchanges may not expand such traditional areas of medical coverage. However, they may provide another option for individuals who lost medical insurance when their employment came to an end.

When a disability prevents a person from working, the loss of employer-subsidized medical insurance may also be lost. For such individuals, SSDI benefits can help fill the gap, allowing a person to continue receiving treatments in spite of the lost medical coverage. Hopefully, the wait between job termination and the start of SSDI benefits won’t create an economic hardship, although an attorney might caution that the approval process is often slow.

According to several sources, there are still bugs in the health insurance exchanges that recently launched under the Affordable Care Act. One problem seems to be reducing wait times created by the overwhelming demand and number of users logging in to the online sites. However, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson reports that work is being done to ensure that everyone can easily access the sites.

Source: usatoday.com, “Health care exchanges working out kinks a week later,” Jayne O'Donnell and Kelly Kennedy, Oct. 8, 2013

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