Families of loved ones with a psychiatric disability, and especially for ones with a co-occurring disability, must—repeat, must—know and understand the complex process of health care options and financing. This is because so many with psychiatric disabilities are among the poorest of America’s poor. They are often unable to work. They are often disabled at early stages of life, before sufficiently “paying into the system”. They are often highly dependent on public sources of health care payments and insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
For those with psychiatric disabilities, the complexity of the health care delivery and payment system for the disabled can be daunting in light of complicated and often opaque criteria, features, requirements, and regulations. The interactions and differences of public programs like Medicaid and Medicare can be mind-numbing–and may become even more so in light of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. How can a family in the maelstrom make sense of it all? Where to start?
Thank goodness there is a wonderful resource to help such families see the overview: the tutorial series of The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation known as KaiserEDU. KaiserEDU offers a series of 20 minute tutorials on all aspects of health care. It provides an excellent regular citizen’s summary of many complex health care subjects that families navigating the mental illness maelstrom need to understand. Every family in the maelstrom would do well to take time some rainy afternoon to view each of the following tutorials, each of which explains an important aspect of the public health care system which serves up to 60% of all those with psychiatric disabilities.
For loved ones with no insurance (as often are the homeless):
For loved ones with Medicaid only (such as those who have been enrolled through SSI or other poverty-related program during the two-year waiting period before also being enrolled in Medicare):
For loved ones with Medicare only (such as those who paid a sufficient amount into the system to receive heftier disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance):
For loved ones who have both Medicare and Medicaid, called “dual eligibles” (such as those diagnosed as young adults before working a sufficient time to receive heftier SSDI payments and thus become in need of poverty-related SSI payments, thus receiving Medicaid, and having completed the two-year waiting period for Medicare):
For loved ones who are covered by private insurance (such as those either having their own policies or, more likely, still being covered on their parents’ policies):
For all family members to understand better what health reform means (specifically, the ACA) and how it came to be law:
To understand how the Federal government budgets for health care (and everything else):
To understand what the public thinks about health care reform:
To understand the role of states in health care policy: