Survey: Younger Adults With Disabilities On Medicare Are Facing More Difficulties

Survey: Younger Adults With Disabilities On Medicare Are Facing More Difficulties

Over the past year, younger Medicare recipients with disabilities were more likely to report negative experiences than those older than 65.

Over the past year, Medicare recipients under the age of 65 with disabilities were more likely to report negative experiences than those older than 65. From cost concerns to worse access to healthcare, how will these barriers impact Black Americans who report having poorer health outcomes compared to white people?

An annual KFF Survey of Consumer Experiences with Health Insurance found notable differences between the 7.7 million Americans under age 65 with Medicare and long-term disabilities. While 92% of respondents over age 65 with disabilities raved about their Medicare coverage, only 79% of those under 65 with disabilities did. However, the latter reported experiences with more health insurance issues.

“Younger beneficiaries who qualify for Medicare because of disability are more likely than those who qualify based on age to have lower incomes and education levels, to be Black or Hispanic, and to be in worse health,” the report stated.

Originally, Medicare was designed to cater to adults 65 and over, with benefits added later for younger adults. Individuals under 65 may be able to qualify for this program if they have a disability or are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

This year, the Biden-Harris administration released an executive public notice to support Americans with disabilities, including financial empowerment and strengthening nondiscrimination in health care under the Affordable Care Act. The statement recognized that “people with disabilities — and especially people with disabilities who are members of racial and ethnic groups that have historically faced discrimination and structural disadvantages in the United States — experience disproportionately poor health status.” 

According to the KFF report, 50% of younger Medicare patients reported their health as “fair” or “poor,” compared to only 19% of those 65 and over. The brimming group is also more inclined to report the same adjectives for their mental health status, while just 1 in 10 senior adults on Medicare do. The report noted that “the higher rate of poorer self-reported health among beneficiaries under age 65 could contribute to a higher rate of health insurance problems.”

Research studies have determined that young adults normally experience difficulty accessing healthcare. However, individuals who live with physical disabilities are at a higher risk of not receiving the necessary care. According to Rhianna Jones, a registered nurse at CanXida, the healthcare needs of a younger person with disabilities tend to be more complicated than older adults.

“While Medicare provides essential health coverage, it may have limitations in coverage for certain services, treatments or equipment crucial for younger individuals with disabilities,” Jones told Newsweek. “Gaps in coverage for rehabilitative services, long-term care, mental health support, or specific therapies can impact their health care experiences.”

For Black adults, who are often saddled with deep medical debt burdens, not seeking treatment at all may be a common option. One in three Black adults have past due medical bills compared to fewer than one in four white adults, and approximately 27% of Black households carry medical debt compared to roughly 17% of white adults. Some debts are piled on credit cards, further leaving Black families behind than other groups.

In 2022, Black Americans represented 10% of Medicare distribution in the United States. Data by the US Census Bureau revealed that Black people with disabilities stand a higher poverty rate than any other group, with 36%. One-third of Black households with a household member with a disability spend more than 50% of household income on housing. 

In late September, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced its efforts to help remove medical bills from Americans’ credit reports.

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