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January 2011



Recent Posts



The Disability, Health Care and Employment Connection

As the health care reform debate rages, we see a few old familiar chestnuts
being dragged from the anti-reform fire. Critics of health care reform have
expressed concern that increased government involvement in health care will
crowd out existing private-pay health insurance. The idea is that when
public funds are used to increase the availability of health insurance
coverage, people will have a disincentive to pay for private coverage out of
their own pocket and to work hard so as to be able to afford to do so.
Similar objections were raised to the expansion of the State Children’s
Health Insurance Plan (S-CHIP), twice vetoed by President Bush and signed by
President Obama as his second piece of legislation after being inaugurated.
Yet for all their concern about disincentives when it comes to buying
private health insurance, critics of health care reform fail to mention
another kind of health care related disincentive — the kind people with
disabilities face when wanting to work.

For most Americans, employment is a vehicle for health insurance coverage,
not an obstacle. For those lucky enough to have employers who provide health
insurance, the connection is simple. For those whose employers do not
provide coverage and who do not qualify for any government program, the only
option is to hope that they can earn enough to purchase coverage on the
expensive individual market. However, for many people with disabilities, the
individual market for health insurance is not an option, due to the
exorbitantly high premiums, exclusions on coverage for certain necessary
treatments or even outright refusal to sell a policy to those with
“pre-existing conditions.”

This leaves prospective workers with disabilities in a horrible dilemma. For
the majority of people with disabilities who cannot find entry-level work
that provides health insurance, government programs are the only option.
Yet, Medicaid’s asset and income limits prevent many workers with
disabilities from qualifying. Taking a job that pays enough to live on means
losing access to health care coverage. Even as we have attempted to open the
door to employment and community integration for people with disabilities
through laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), insurance discrimination and lack of
affordable health care serves to keep that door closed for too many.
The rest of the article is available
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ ari-neeman/ the-disability- health-car_ b_265365. html>at:
http://www.huffingt onpost.com/ ari-neeman/ the-disability- health-car_ b_265365. html

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
http://www.autistic advocacy. org
info@autisticadvoca cy.org

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