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Disability Insurance Observer: Win Some, Lose Some

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Fully implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as written could help people with disabilities in some ways but pinch in others.

Allsup Inc., Belleville, Ill. — a company that has made a specialty of helping people get through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application maze — talks about some seldom-mentioned bits of PPACA in a look at how PPACA might affect Allsup clients.

Allsup sent out the analysis shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress has the authority to impose a tax on individuals who fail to buy health insurance.

PPACA could help people with disabilities by requiring health insurers to sell and price individual coverage without taking an applicant’s health status into account, but the access rules will help people with disabilities only if the prices consumers pay turn out to be affordable, Allsup says.

Today, Allsup says, people with disabilities who get SSDI benefits can eventually sign up for Medicare, but they must wait 24 months after collecting cash SSDI benefits to become eligible for Medicare.

About one-third of the individuals who get SSDI lose access to health insurance while getting through the 24-month Medicare waiting period, Allsup says.

Some of the individuals cannot get replacement coverage because they cannot afford the premiums, but others cannot qualify for any conventional commercial health coverage at any price because they suffer from serious health problems, Allsup says.

But Allsup notes that the price of coverage through a temporary PPACA program for people with health problems, the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) program, has been out of reach for many people with health problems.

Allsup adds that PPACA could lead to higher tax costs for people with disabilities who still have significant taxable income.

“Starting in 2013, the threshold for itemized deductions for unreimbursed medical expenses increases from 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 10% of AGI,” Allsup says. “However, this is waived for individuals age 65 and older through 2016. Also in 2013, taxpayers will see increased taxes for Medicare. This includes a 0.9% increase in the Medicare Part A tax rate to 2.35% on earnings over $200,000 for individual taxpayers, and $250,000 for married couples filing jointly, and a new 3.8% tax on unearned income for higher-income taxpayers.”

Notice that nothing in Allsup’s analysis involves statements that Democrats are all evil, that everyone who voted for the bill is a Marxist, that people who voted for the bill should be deported, or anything of the like.

The Allsup analysts just read the bill calmly, looking for bits that might help clients as well as bits that might hurt, and found details that firebrands on both sides might wish they’d noticed.


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