How to Get Medical Coverage While on Disability


The Americans with Disabilities Act describes a person with a disability as having a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment." People with disabilities often cannot work or, if able to work, may not be able to work for an employer that offers employer-based medical coverage or afford the premiums offered for such coverage. The dilemma that many disabled face is trying to get medical coverage to maintain or improve medical care and overall health while often not having the financial resources to pay for such coverage.

Take advantage of Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) benefits if disabled and recently employed. COBRA treats a disability as a qualifying event under certain disability requirements as outlined on the U.S. Department of Labor's website.

Contact your local medical assistance, social service and/or or welfare office to find out if your state offers a medical assistance program such as Medicaid for people on disability or who have a disability and low or no income. Some states offer not only programs for non-workers with disabilities, but also for workers with disabilities who, although able to work, cannot afford the medical premiums offered by for-profit, major medical insurance carriers. One of these offices may also have a list of area not-for-profit organizations that provide medical aid or doctors who offer budget, financing or other medical coverage assistance programs.

Check with for-profit major medical insurance carriers for low-cost or budget coverage options, as well as options for the disabled self-employed.

Ask your doctor, dentist, optometrist or other health-care provider about any pre-pay, budget or payment plan programs offered to cover the cost of services.

Speak with your prescription drug manufacturers or local pharmacy about discounts and prescription coverage options.

Wait for Medicare if you receive Social Security disability benefits. Although Medicare typically applies to people 65-years-old or higher, younger people with disabilities also qualify automatically after two years of receiving disability benefits through Social Security.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always check if a potential medical coverage insurance carrier has a pre-existing condition clause as it may reduce the amount of coverage you can receive as the result of your disability.
  • If you have experienced an emergency medical situation resulting in a hospital trip (out-patient or in-patient) or had medical testing ordered by a hospital-based doctor and cannot pay your bill, immediately contact the hospital's finance department to see if you qualify for income-based financial aid or financing.

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