Health Insurance Rates for People With Disabilities in Michigan

If you are disabled and unable to work, Social Security disability benefits can be an important lifeline to pay your bills and maintain your daily life. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are intended for precisely that purpose.

But what about health insurance? Paying the premiums for health coverage is a significant expense for disabled people in Michigan and across the country.

In Michigan, many people with disabilities rely on the federal Medicare program for their health insurance coverage. Many senior citizens do so as well.

There is also a type of insurance known as Medigap. This is private insurance that supplements Medicare coverage. There are many different types of Medigap insurance that help Medicare beneficiaries pay medical expenses Medicare either does not pay for or does not pay in full.

In the current legislative session, Michigan lawmakers are considering how the federal Affordable Care Act (the ACA, aka Obamacare) will affect health insurance coverage for people on Medicare – including many disabled people. In particular, seniors groups and Attorney General Bill Schuette are concerned about what will happen when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is restructured.

That restructuring, as proposed by Gov. Ed. Snyder, is in response to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA, Blue Cross Blue Shield was exempt from state and local taxes in exchange for offering health insurance to people with such conditions.

Gov. Snyder is proposing that Blue Cross Blue Shield pay taxes and set up a separate nonprofit organization to continue its charitable activities. This would likely entail more frequent rate changes, however. Those changes could adversely affect seniors, disabled people and others who rely on Medicare.

There is already a Medigap rate freeze in effect. That freeze is due to last until 2016. But the Michigan legislature may require Blue Cross Blue Shield’s new nonprofit fund to subsidize those rates even longer.

Source: “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan bills head to House floor without abortion measures,” MLive, Melissa Anders, 2-21-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in Southeast Michigan. To learn more about our practice, please visit our main Social Security disability page.