This week is Disability Week of Action for Open Enrollment Year 10 (OE10). So far this week, we have introduced you to disability week of action and debuted a new character – Olli the NaviGator. Today we want to highlight the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what it means for people with disabilities.
Prior to passage and implementation of the ACA, people with disabilities would have difficulty obtaining health insurance due to the fact that health insurance carriers would not provide coverage for people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions. Under the ACA, everyone has the right to buy health insurance under what is known as the “guaranteed issue” provisions of the law. These provisions require three things:
- Insurers are prohibited from denying coverage due to disability or pre-existing conditions.
- No one can lose their insurance or be denied the right to renew their insurance simply because they become sick or develop a disability.
- Insurance companies are prohibited from setting premiums based on your health conditions, so people with disabilities cannot be charged more simply because of their disability.
As a result, the ACA marketplace offers an excellent opportunity for people with all disabilities who either had gone without coverage or had limited access to needed healthcare benefits to obtain health insurance in the individual market. However, the “guaranteed issue” provisions of the ACA are only some of the protections which are provided to people with disabilities as a result of the ACA. More protections for people with disabilities, including coverage of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), are spelled out in the statement we wrote in 2017 entitled “Preserve the Protections Provided by the Affordable Care Act”.
These protections are especially important when you consider the rate of disability in this country. About 1 in 4 people in the United States have a disability, an important statistic to note when it comes to obtaining affordable and accessible healthcare coverage. Studies have shown that people with disabilities have more difficulty in getting preventative healthcare services necessary to lead a healthy life, which negatively impacts already marginalized groups. For instance, 2 in 5 adults age 65 years and older have a disability, as well as 2 in 5 non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives. This is especially important as people with disabilities experience greater barriers to obtaining access, including the fact that one in three people with disabilities have unmet health care needs due to cost.
However, there is good news! With the extension of the enhanced premium tax credits because of the Inflation Reduction Act, insurance through the ACA marketplace has never been more affordable. In fact, 80% of those who go to healthcare.gov can find coverage for less than $10 per month.
Please continue to follow us as we progress through Disability Week of Action. Tomorrow we will be hosting our Twitter chat entitled “Coverage Is Inclusive” at 3 PM ET. You can follow along on the AAHD Twitter account or by following the #OE10DisabilityChat. If you want to prepare to be involved, you can preview the questions for this chat.