How is Disability Defined?
For purposes of the Marketplace, HHS defines disability as, “A limit in a range of major life activities. This includes activities like seeing, hearing, walking and tasks like thinking and working.” (See glossary definition at HealthCare.gov) HHS also references the definition found in the ADA and its amendments. The ADA definitions explain who the law protects from discrimination and therefore is an important legal guide post for Navigator organizations. (See “HHS Guide to Working with People with Disabilities” for a detailed explanation of the ADA.)
(Note that for purposes of accessibility, accommodation and other disability rights, the definition of “disability” that is used by state Medicaid programs or the Social Security Administration, for example, are not applicable.)
In order to assist Navigators to recognize disability, understand how to accommodate people with disabilities during interactions about Marketplace options, and be aware of the types of services and benefits consumers are likely to require from their health insurance, it is helpful to understand disability from two perspectives:
- The practical experience of disability begins with the presence of one or more physical, mental, cognitive, intellectual or other impairment or condition. Such impairments or conditions may or may not be visible and the person who has the conditions may or may not perceive them or identify them as a disability.
- Specific impairments or conditions might result in one or more functional or activity limitations in domains such as seeing, hearing, thinking, walking, communicating, remembering, and making decisions, and tasks like working, shopping, self-care, and other activities of daily living. Even though some people may have these functional or activity limitations, they may not see themselves as having a disability. Nevertheless, the presence of the condition and related activity limitations has important implications regarding eligibility for and selection of appropriate insurance coverage. The person might also require specific accommodations in order to access and understand information about possible coverage options.