ONMericans with disabilities have seen a sharp surge in health insurance coverage in the past decade since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, new federal data released Monday shows.
The proportion of working-age adults with disabilities who had health insurance throughout the year increased from 71.4% in 2010-2011 to 81.2% in 2017-2018. The biggest gains were immediately after 2014, when key insurance changes to the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to a health department report. The report also found that the proportion of people with disabilities who were uninsured for the whole year almost halved from 17.1% to 9.3% over the same period.
Coverage increases for Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, were particularly large among people with disabilities, increasing from 31.4% in 2010-2011 to 37.2% in 2017-2018, according to the report.
However, it is a long way to go. Almost 10 years after the Court of Auditors passed, the report found that adults with disabilities were still 5% less likely to have full year insurance than adults without disabilities, 17% more likely to be uninsured all year round, and 54% more likely to have part of the year Be insured for the year. If you combine the rates for year-round (9.3%) and partial year (9.5%) uninsured people in 2017-2018, uniform health insurance coverage remained unattainable for almost 1 in 5 disabled adults.
People with disabilities have also been hit hard by the pandemic. Many people’s disabilities make them particularly vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, and the spread of the virus has disrupted their routines, preventing them from receiving regular care, and isolating many from their support systems. It has also battered disabled Americans economically: disabled workers are disproportionately employed in industries devastated by the pandemic, such as retail, hospitality and hospitality, are more likely to work in entry-level positions and may take longer to find a new job once they get there have done have been dismissed.
“The expansion of medicines and access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act mean that more people with disabilities have health insurance today. But every move has increased the cost of the pandemic for people with disabilities, ”HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “COVID-19 highlighted the work that still needs to be done to make our country inclusive and accessible to all.”
Before former President Barack Obama put his signature health plan into effect in 2010, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses often struggled to get health insurance. Private plans could charge them more or deny them coverage based on pre-existing health conditions, and insurers often have annual or lifetime limits that could hurt people who needed expensive care.
After the ACA was the law in the country, these practices were banned and more than 20 million Americans were covered by health insurance by 2016. In June, HHS announced that the number had grown to 31 million Americans now covered by the Affordable Care Act. Research has shown that health insurance improves people’s access to health care, which can significantly improve their health. Since Obamacare was passed, studies have shown that the law has led to an increase in cancer early diagnoses, improved treatment rates for diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, and better self-assessment of health.
It also allowed states to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income residents, reduce racial disparities in access to health care, help people get treatment for opioid addiction and quit smoking, and reduce the number of medical bankruptcies as well to reduce poverty. A recent study on JAMA found that medical debt in states that expanded Medicaid fell 44% from 2009 to 2020, compared with a 10% decrease in states that did not expand.
Such changes have slowed in recent years as the Trump administration took steps to restrict the ACA. The country’s overall rate of uninsured people actually rose slightly from 2017, and the proportion of people with disabilities with Medicaid insurance fell from 39.8% in 2015-2016 to 37.2% in 2017-2018. This coincided with states imposing new barriers to enrollment in Medicaid such as job requirements, rewards, and additional verification papers.
This year, President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan expanded grants to help people purchase health insurance from the ACA marketplace, and that financial aid not only helps low-income Americans but also those above 400% of the poverty line earlier were not eligible for subsidies. He also had the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency overseeing many government health programs, open a special registration period so people can sign up for these new subsidies by August 15.
Now 66.8% of uninsured adults with disabilities – a total of 532,000 people – are eligible for zero-premium health insurance because of the American Rescue Plan subsidies, the HHS report said. This is an increase of 16.8 percentage points compared to people with disabilities who were previously entitled to premium-free plans.
“CMS is committed to helping people with disabilities get the health coverage they need and deserve,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the agency’s administrator, in a statement. She said anyone who still needs coverage should sign up for a plan before August 15.
That aid will only last until 2022, so the Biden administration and Congress must decide whether to make the expanded subsidies permanent – something Democrats are considering as part of the budget reconciliation package they are trying to pass this summer.
While the pandemic is in a better place than it was a year ago, with the spread of the Delta variant, the CDC has warned that the COVID-19 vaccines may not be effective for immunocompromised people, making many people with disabilities even more vulnerable feel.
On the occasion of the 31.
“We are bringing agencies together to ensure that Americans with long-term covid who have a disability have access to the rights and resources afforded under the Disability Act,” he said. Biden spoke about how far the disability rights movement has come, but acknowledged that many areas of American life are still not fully accessible to disabled people. “We have made important progress,” he said, “but we still have a lot to do.”
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