A major health insurance trade group organized a seminar Monday to show lawmakers’ aides what a severe disability or the cost of long term care can do to a family’s finances.[@@]

Representatives from the group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, briefed congressional staffers on disability awareness survey results first released in November 2004, gave them a crash course on long term care insurance policy and introduced them to Brooke Ellison, a 26-year-old woman who has been paralyzed since just before she was 12, when a car struck her while she was returning from school.

The survey, conducted by researchers from Ayres, McHenry and Associates, Alexandria, Va., found that 58% of the adults who responded said they were covered by disability insurance and that 59% believed that workers’ compensation covered a high percentage of disability claims.

In reality, only 35% of American workers have disability coverage, and only 10% of workers with disabilities qualify for workers’ comp.

AHIP notes that about one-third of workers over age 30 will become disabled for at least 3 months at some point during their careers.

In other presentations at the seminar:

- Karen Ignagni, president of AHIP, told congressional staffers that there is growing bipartisan support for an above-the-line deduction for LTC premiums.

- Ellison said she hopes public policy debates will take research advances into account when discussing people who are paralyzed. The advances “give spinal cord injury victims some hope,” Ellison said.