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Archive for the ‘insurance’ Category

Survey: ADA has not improved quality of life

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

From USA Today:

A survey commissioned by the Kessler Foundation/National Organization on Disabilities finds that the ADA has not made meaningful progress in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The survey shows that more must be done to help people with disabilities get ahead, said Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability.

“While education has improved considerably, joblessness has not. We as a nation must figure this out,” she said.

Among the survey’s key findings:

• People with disabilities still lag in key areas such as employment, access to health care and social interactions;

• 21% of disabled working-age Americans had a job in the past year, versus 59% for those without disabilities;

• 19% of people with disabilities said they did not get the medical care they needed in the past year, with lack of insurance coverage cited as the top reason;

• 48% of people with disabilities eat out at a restaurant twice a month, compared to 75% of those without disabilities; and

• 34% of disabled people say inadequate transportation is a problem, compared to 16% of those without disabilities, a gap that has widened 5 percentage points since 1986.

Related post here.

Advocates observe Autism Awareness Day

Monday, April 5th, 2010

The NBC Today Show marks UN-designated World Autism Awareness Day with a feature about the disorder, which affects tens of millions of people around the world. Among those highlighted are Autism Speaks founders Bob and Suzanne Wright, developmental pediatrician Cece McCarton, and parents Shelly and Jed Milstein, who have two sons with autism.

Autism Speaks reports that the rate of diagnoses now stands at approximately one in 110 children and one in 70 boys, a rate that has risen 600 percent in the past two decades. McCarton says the increase is caused in part by heightened awareness, but says researchers suspect other factors are involved.

Bob Wright says few school districts are providing appropriate therapies, and the cost of purchasing services privately is crushing the finances of many families. (Related post here.) He says fifteen states have passed measures requiring insurers to cover autism therapies, and says venture capitalists are beginning to work on therapies that might prove to be profitable.

See also:

ESPN: Curt Schilling’s wife pens book about son’s diagnosis with Asperger’s

CNN: Ten sites to check if your child has autism

CNN blog: The latest on autism research

PEB.com: Autism insurance gathers momentum

Insurance industry backs off on pre-existing condition coverage

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

From CBS News:

In a letter released yesterday, the insurance industry’s top lobbyist said the industry will not fight a provision in the new health care law that guarantees coverage to children with pre-existing medical conditions. The Obama administration had promised that the coverage would start later this year.

Earlier press reports, including this one in the New York Times, had said the insurance industry was challenging that portion of the measure and arguing that its language was not precise.

The White House sent a letter to the insurance industry to clarify the bill. “We don’t want to leave any ambiguity,” says Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. “This won’t be up to insurance companies to interpret. Parents can rest assured.”

Related stories from AP/Washington Post, National Public Radio.

Earlier report from CBS: Language in health care law may prevent kids with pre-existing conditions from getting coverage until 2014. The video is here.

Pre-existing condition coverage in jeopardy

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Robert Pear, writing in the New York Times, says architects of the new health care law had intended that the measure ban discrimination against children with certain pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, birth defects, orthopedic issues, leukemia, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, requiring that insurance coverage be extended to them.

But days after the bill’s signing, he says, insurance companies are already arguing that they do not have to provide such coverage, at least for now. Congressional Democrats reacted angrily to statements by insurers. An excerpt:

Insurers agree that if they provide insurance for a child, they must cover pre-existing conditions. But, they say, the law does not require them to write insurance for the child and it does not guarantee the “availability of coverage” for all until 2014.

William G. Schiffbauer, a lawyer whose clients include employers and insurance companies, said: “The fine print differs from the larger political message. If a company sells insurance, it will have to cover pre-existing conditions for children covered by the policy. But it does not have to sell to somebody with a pre-existing condition. And the insurer could increase premiums to cover the additional cost.”

Opinion: Coverage of pre-existing condition ‘sets daughter free’

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Columnist Dan Kennedy, writing in the [UK] Guardian, says the health care bill liberates tens of millions of Americans like his daughter who have what insurance companies call pre-existing conditions. Kennedy’s 17-year-old daughter Becky was diagnosed at birth with achondroplasia, a genetic condition that is the most common form of dwarfism.

The bill, he writes, will prohibit insurance companies from denying benefits to people with pre-existing conditions. The effect of those regulations, Kennedy says, will be to “release … pent-up entrepreneurialism,” allowing people to launch businesses or join start-up companies without fear of losing their insurance coverage. An excerpt:

Maybe an accountant who’s recovered from cancer wants to try his hand at consulting. Maybe a mother with an autistic child has a killer idea for a restaurant. Maybe a wheelchair-using lawyer at a large firm would like to hang out her own shingle. Now there’s nothing to stop them.

Related column by Dan Kennedy: Wiping out human variation. Kennedy worries that a new test allowing people to see if they have “preventable genetic diseases” encourages the elimination of human diversity. An excerpt:

… what if we had been told we were at risk of having a child with a “preventable genetic disease”? What would we have done? I’d like to think the answer would have been “nothing”, but who knows? In 1992, we could at least feel secure in the knowledge that there wasn’t anything to be done.

In 2010, and in the years and decades to come, we will not only be able to do something, but I fear we will be expected to do something as well. It’s a chilling prospect, and one we haven’t even begun to talk about. The time to start talking is now.

Dan Kennedy is an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.

Speech-generating iPhone app ranks in Apple’s top 30

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

From the [UK] Independent:

Proloquo2Go, a speech-generating program that gives a voice to people who have difficulty speaking, is among Apple’s 30 top-selling applications for the year 2009. The program comes in at number 23 — ahead of ESPN, CNN and Family Guy.

The program retails at $189.99, making it an affordable alternative to conventional speech-generating systems that can cost thousands of dollars, and is used by people with autism, cerebral palsy, Lou Gehrig’s disease and many other conditions. The technology turns an iPhone into a voice-output communication device, and allows children to integrate more seamlessly with their peers.

Medicare and private insurers have resisted paying for the system, limiting coverage to bulky, expensive proprietary equipment.

Here’s a list of other text-to-speech products that are on the market.

Law to prohibit misuse of genetic data

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

From the New York Times:

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) will go into effect next weekend, prohibiting employers from requesting genetic testing or considering a person’s genetic background in hiring, firing or promotions.

The law also prohibits health insurers from requiring genetic testing or using a family medical history to deny coverage or assess premiums or deductibles.

“It doesn’t matter who’s asking for genetic information, if it’s the employer or the insurer, the point is you can’t ask for it,” said John C. Stivarius Jr., a trial lawyer based in Atlanta who advises businesses about the new law.

Earlier posts here.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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