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How the Affordable Care Act could affect the disabled

For many people with serious disabilities, extensive therapy can help improve their quality of life immensely. Known as “habilitative services," many disabled individuals meet with therapists routinely in effort to improve daily living skills.

One person who knows first-hand the importance of habilitative services is a 20-year-old Los Angeles man named Bryce. Bryce lives with cerebral palsy, which has impaired his ability to walk or talk. However, Bryce is able to use his eyes to speak through an innovative computer attached to his wheelchair.

In order to help him use the computer program to its full potential, Bryce receives habilitative services from a speech-language pathologist. While there is no question that the technology and habilitative services have improved Bryce's life, the problem is that the services are expensive and out of reach for many disabled Americans.

Currently, health insurance companies are able to choose which types of therapies they will cover, and many opt not to cover habilitative services because of their expense. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act could potentially change that.

The new health care law, which will be imposed in 2014, will change what health insurance companies are required to cover. According to a health economist, this means it will be much more likely that habilitative services will be covered in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

Although, advocates for the disabled say it's still unclear how much the Affordable Care Act will benefit the disabled population as there are still man details that need to be ironed out. But she said that hopes the new health care law will be a "game changer."

Many disabled individuals who qualify for Social Secuirty Disability benefits also then qualify for medical insurance through the state. This can be a life-saver when it comes to the expensive medical costs associated with long-term disabilities.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Health Care Law Presents Complex Choices For People With Disabilities," Eric Whitney, Aug. 13, 2013

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