If you are permanently disabled, you cannot afford to be without some type of plan to cover your health-related costs on an ongoing basis
Belleville, IL (Vocus) July 29, 2008 –-
Rising gas prices, higher costs for food and healthcare are triggering a financial overload for families, according to Allsup, which represents people nationwide for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI). The financial overload is especially difficult for adults who have the added burden of no longer being able to work because of a chronic illness or injury.
But people with disabilities have some options when it comes to better handling healthcare costs. “If you are permanently disabled, you cannot afford to be without some type of plan to cover your health-related costs on an ongoing basis,” said Paul Gada, a tax attorney and personal financial planning director for Allsup. “This is especially true if you are applying for SSDI benefits, since you need to be able to provide updated medical records to the Social Security Administration.”
Allsup representatives, who have helped thousands of people to apply for and receive SSDI benefits, handle questions daily on the issue of healthcare costs. Fortunately, there are some ways to manage healthcare costs, and Allsup offers the following insights. More information can be found on Allsup.com under the section, “Disability and Managing Healthcare Costs.”
Options for Healthcare Costs
Often, the decisions that must be made when facing a life-changing disability are overwhelming. In particular, those trying to manage their healthcare costs in the wake of a disability can feel trapped in the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation.
“Healthcare is one of those areas where you take a deep breath, try to calm yourself and evaluate all of your options to the best of your ability,” said Mr. Gada. “For years, Allsup has helped people with disabilities get the help they truly need to make difficult decisions and understand their circumstances. Part of this process is realizing they shouldn’t lose hope.”
Consider the following alternatives:
1. COBRA coverage. Losing your job because of a permanent disability does not necessarily mean you lose coverage under your former employer’s group health plan. You may have the right to elect COBRA healthcare continuation coverage under the plan. Federal law requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide COBRA. There also are added COBRA benefits available to individuals who apply for and qualify for SSDI benefits.
2. Medicare. Most people know that qualifying for Medicare is primarily based on age. But Medicare also is available to those under 65 who have received SSDI benefits for 24 months. As a SSDI beneficiary, you may qualify for Medicare sooner; eligibility for those with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, starts the first month SSDI benefits are received.
3. Drug company assistance programs. Many major drug companies offer lower income individuals help with getting their prescribed medication. Eligibility may vary, but such programs can significantly cut your healthcare costs. Allsup.com offers more details about drug company assistance programs online.
4. State pharmaceutical assistance programs. Many states offer help paying for drug plan premiums and other drug costs. Eligibility and benefits vary. Allsup.com offers a map of state drug assistance programs online.
5. Generic drugs. Switching to generic drugs provides a 50 to 70 percent savings over their name brand equivalents, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There are generic equivalents for roughly 75 percent of the drugs listed with the FDA.
6. Negotiate lower healthcare costs. This may seem like an impossible step, but it can work. Keep in mind that your various providers probably like having you as a customer, and they would like to continue to have you as a customer. The key when negotiating is to act and look like a savvy consumer. A five-step process to negotiating lower healthcare costs can be found at Allsup.com.
7. Discount healthcare membership programs. There are programs available that for a small fee can provide you with significant discounts on a variety of healthcare services, including services that typically don’t have coverage under health insurance plans. More information on discount healthcare programs also can be found online.
Rising healthcare costs are becoming a painful burden for many families. According to a 2007 U.S. Census Bureau report, about 16 percent of Americans (47 million people) did without health insurance coverage at some time during 2006. “Realize you are not alone, but don’t neglect making the tough choices and doing the homework,” Mr. Gada said. “Taking a few small steps can translate to several hundred dollars in savings and help you to receive Social Security disability benefits, resulting in additional benefits as well.”
Allsup, Belleville, Ill., is a leading nationwide provider of financial and healthcare related services to people with disabilities. Founded in 1984, Allsup has helped more than 100,000 people receive their entitled Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits. Allsup employs more than 500 professionals who deliver services directly to consumers and their families, or through their employers and long-term disability insurance carriers. For more information, visit Allsup.com.
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