The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provides some new support programs for the severely disabled, but it does nothing to protect a workers’ paycheck.

The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) — an insurance-industry-backed effort to educate consumers about the fragility of the ability to work — is finding that PPACA actively interferes with paycheck protection education.

The CDA is getting ready to participate in the Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign, in May.

Barry LundquistBarry Lundquist, right, the CDA president, said in an interview that PPACA has had a major effect in the market since the last awareness month campaign.

“It is the giant gorilla in the room,” Lundquist said. “It’s used up all of the employers’ energy and resources.”

The pipeline of new group disability insurance prospects shrank as employers focused on understanding and responding to PPACA, Lundquist said.

In some cases, Lundquist said, employers worried about the effects of PPACA-compliant plans’ higher out-of-pocket cost levels have wanted to add benefits to ease the sting.

But, because employers are uncertain about the future and afraid of increasing their benefits budgets, they have mostly added voluntary, employee-paid disability benefits, not employer-paid benefits, Lundquist said.

Now that the PPACA dust is starting to settle, employers may start to think more about benefits other than medical insurance, Lundquist said.

The CDA is conducting its annual disability claims survey, and it’s also preparing to do a sequel to a consumer survey it conducted four years ago.

The CDA is asking some of the same questions it asked four years ago to show how consumer thinking has changed over time.

The group also is adding questions to try to explore why the insurance products that consumers actually buy are so different from what they say is important.

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