Problem of Lost Health Benefits Is Reaching Into the Middle Class

November 25th, 2002

To the Editor,

Your 11/25/02 article detailing loss of medical insurance omits the most glaring example of lost but critically needed health insurance. I refer to the plight of the newly disabled. The Social Security Administration notes the huge rise in disabilities among non-senior citizens, telling us to expect that 3 our of every 10 new entries to the workforce will be prematurely unable to participate in the workforce and need to collect Social Security Disability.

I was earning over $50,000 per year when I became disabled by pesticide poisoning at the age of 45. While Social Security deemed me unable to work and provided me with a stipend, their rules require one to be disabled for 24 months before eligibility for medicare becomes effective. My COBRA policy runs $350 per month during this critical time when I am most in need of medical care. The insurance comes at the sacrifice of food, clothing and an accumulation of debt. There is also the matter of necessary medical expenses which are not reimbursable that break the budget in any medical crisis.

The disabled need access to medicare much sooner than the current policies permit. Perhaps access to it will even reduce the severity or duration of some people’s disabilities and allow them to return to work at some point. Most of us go without proper nutrition, housing etc. during this critical period.

Categories: Letters

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