Medicare, Health Reform and the Challenges for People with Disabilities
A recent forum held in Washington, D.C. by the Kaiser Family Foundation brought together policy experts, stakeholders, and advocates to discuss the challenges facing individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare.
Of the 47 million people enrolled in Medicare, 8 million are under age 65. To qualify for Medicare, these individuals must be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and must complete a 24-month waiting period before they can begin receiving Medicare benefits. A 2008 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggested that Medicare does not work as well for younger, disabled beneficiaries as it does for older enrollees. Nonelderly disabled beneficiaries report higher rates of: health problems (poor health, chronic conditions, depression, severe pain); problems with access to providers (dentists, transportation, getting medical care); medication access problems (unable to get prescription, not covered by plan); and difficulty paying for medical services.
For a description of the 2008 survey and a discussion of its policy implications for health reform and other efforts to improve care for Medicare beneficiaries, see “Medicare Doesn’t Work as Well for Younger, Disabled Beneficiaries as it Does for Older Enrollees,” published in the Sept. 2010 issue of Health Affairs.