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J Health Hum Serv Adm. 2007 Winter;30(3):268-91.

Working age Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities: population characteristics and policy considerations.

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Washington State University, USA.


Compared to older beneficiaries, disabled workers who become eligible for Medicare 25 months after they are deemed eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), receive little research attention or policy consideration. This is unfortunate, because of the special medical and vocational needs, high healthcare costs, and rapid growth of this population. Although disabled workers comprise only 14.1% of the total Medicare population, they account for about 17% ($71.6 billion) of total program expenditures. This review article finds that disabled workers are a medically heterogeneous population, with relatively high rates of psychiatric and cognitive conditions. Poor health, low incomes, and lack of access to affordable supplemental coverage make this group particularly vulnerable to program limitations and policy changes. Coverage gaps and co-payments may limit access to critical health services, including preventive services, rehabilitation, adaptive technology, personal assistance, and prescription drugs. Access to stable and affordable health insurance coverage is an essential part of return to work programming for SSDI beneficiaries.

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