Nearly half of the nation's non-elderly adults with disabilities
go without equipment and other items due to cost, according to a
recent survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The report, Understanding the Health Care Needs and
Experiences of People with Disabilities: Findings from a 2003
Survey, found that people with disabilities who don't have
health insurance face the greatest challenges. Although most adults
with disabilities do have some form of insurance, 69 percent of
those without health insurance report having no regular doctor, and
67 percent go without needed equipment, such as wheelchairs.
Among survey respondents with any type of health insurance,
those with Medicare alone — and no supplemental coverage
— reported the highest rates of serious cost-related
problems. Nearly seven in 10 of those relying only on Medicare
reported going without medical equipment and other needed items due
to cost. The survey showed equipment plays a critical role in the
lives of many disabled, with 45 percent of those with a physical
disability relying on some form of equipment, such as motorized
wheelchairs, to help them manage their basic needs at home and
work. Despite these various sources of support, 42 percent of the
sample participants reported falling while getting in or out of bed
or a chair because no one was available to help. In addition, 21
percent of those who use equipment to manage their disabilities say
they have serious difficulties paying for it.
Within the survey sample, more than 1,500 people aged 18 to 64,
44 percent are covered by Medicaid, including 14 percent with both
Medicaid and Medicare coverage; 43 percent are covered by Medicare,
with 14 percent having private supplemental coverage; and 33
percent by some form of private coverage.
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