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'Obamacare' could result in private health care for the disabled

Many people who receive Social Security Disability benefits also rely on Medicaid for insurance coverage. However, because of the new Affordable Care Act, it is expected that a greater percentage of the disabled population in the United States will be turning to private insurance policies for coverage.

That's because under the Affordable Care Act, private insurance companies are not allowed to disqualify or increase premiums on insurees because of pre-existing conditions. Additionally, it will be required that policies offer coverage for “essential benefits,” many of which have been left out of private plans until now.

For example, coverage for mental health care hasn't traditionally been offered in many private plan policies, but the Affordable Care Act could change that. Additionally, private insurers may be required to provide coverage for “habilitative care,” which is an expensive therapy that is becoming much more common among people with disabilities.

However, it's important to point out that "essential benefits" has not exactly been defined at this point, so it's unclear how much change the Affordable Care Act will inspire within private health care plans.

Because many health care providers do not accept Medicaid, many disabled Americans might still consider turning to private health insurance coverage to get the treatment and therapy they need. Another option may be to use a private health care plan in addition to Medicaid coverage, which is known as a "Medicaid wraparound."

Keep in mind that it will be extremely important to read the fine print when it comes to choosing the best plan for health care in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. Even better would be to consult the expertise of a Social Security Disability lawyer who can help determine the best fit for each individual or family.

Open enrollment for health care will begin on Oct. 1, when the marketplace will open for Americans looking for high quality insurance coverage at a low rate. The coverage itself will then begin as early as Jan. 1, 2014.

Source: Poughkeepsie Journal, "Krooks: Is new exchange a disability game-changer?," Bernard Krooks, Sept. 14, 2013. 

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