Disabled Medicare recipients under the age of 65 are one step closer to being able to purchase supplemental insurance.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill to allow disabled individuals eligible for Federal Medicare to be able to purchase the same Medicare supplement policies available to elderly Medicare recipients. States in more than half the country have already adopted similar laws. The bill is good news for Delaware resident Heather Block. She is currently battling metastatic breast cancer, has been trailblazing the insurance reform bill. Although she currently has medical insurance, once she becomes eligible for Medicare, it will only pay for 80 percent of her care, requiring her to pay the remainder out of pocket. “20 percent of your health bill doesn’t seem like a lot of money until you see what things really cost,” said Block. If the bill becomes law, Block and other disabled residents in the state will be able to purchase supplemental insurance to help cover the rest of the costs. “First of all, the insurance companies would be able to reject me because of my health status, my diagnosis of cancer,” explained Block. “So, that’s number one. If this becomes law, they will no longer be able to reject people for their health issues.” The second major thing it will do is require insurers to come up with an equal premium for all disabled residents, rather that scaling the premiums based on the type of disability. “They can’t say ‘you have breast cancer, you’re going to be expensive so I’m going to charge you more,” said Block. The bill now heads to the House Banking and Insurance Committee and with only a few weeks left in the 147th General Assembly, the bill could end up being held until next legislative session in January. “I’m trying not to get too excited because it’s not a law yet,” she said. “It still has to get through the house and I know were getting to the end hours of the session. I’m trying to keep my momentum so that I can keep pushing and hope this becomes law.”