11242017Headline:

Birmingham, Alabama

HomeAlabamaBirmingham

Email Stuart McAtee Stuart McAtee on LinkedIn Stuart McAtee on Twitter Stuart McAtee on Facebook
Stuart McAtee
Stuart McAtee
Contributor •

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing For Your Medicare Coverage During Your SSD Eligibility

Comments Off

Must I always be waiting waiting on you?
Must I always be playing, playing your fool?
"Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" –Jack Johnson

The goal of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is to provide a safety net for workers who must stop working because of a disability. There is, however, a significant hole in that safety net with respect to health care coverage and access to care: although Medicare coverage is available to people with disabilities, most beneficiaries must wait for that coverage until 24 months after their eligibility for SSDI begins. There is a great article about this time frame and the effect it can have on disabled Americans located at:
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Content/Publications/Fund-Reports/2009/May/Health-Insurance-and-Health-Care-Access-Before-and-After.aspx

The article goes on to say that even three years before entering the SSDI program, beneficiaries differ from other working-age adults in many respects: they are older; have lower levels of education; are more likely to be divorced, widowed, or separated; are more likely to be black; are more likely to be in laborer and service occupations and less likely to be in managerial/professional occupations; have lower average earnings; are in poorer health; are more likely to be uninsured; and have higher reported rates of health care access problems. Yet, in several important respects, beneficiaries observed three years before SSDI entry are similar to all working-age persons: they are about as likely to be employed, have health coverage through their own employment, live in households with incomes below the federal poverty level, and have Medicaid coverage.

In a new “Perspectives on Health Reform” essay, the Fund’s Stuart Guterman and Heather Drake say that although the cost of eliminating the waiting period—estimated to be $12 billion a year—seems high, it represents only a small percentage increase in Medicare spending. Moreover, eliminating the waiting period could bring important benefits to the program and to beneficiaries, while helping states reduce their spending on public programs. Hopefully, these Amercians won’t be Sitting, Waiting, and Wishing much longer.