Much of the research on health care financing for people with disabilities has focused on the Medicaid and Medicare programs. The findings of this research often highlight the inadequacies of those programs in providing appropriate services to address the special needs of people with disabilities. A focus on these large programs, however, obscures the role of other public and private insurers, as well as the role of programs that provide many additional services to this population – all of which add complexity to the system.
The purpose of this paper is to describe the health care financing system as a whole, including the large public programs, other public and private insurers, and the many other programs that provide additional services. The description of the system highlights structural problems that need to be addressed in order to substantially improve the delivery of health and related services to people with disabilities. In the next section, we describe each source of health care financing for working-age people with disabilities and highlight its implications for service delivery and quality of life. In the concluding section, we describe the key structural shortcomings of the current financing system, assess the extent to which current reform efforts are addressing these shortcomings, and discuss the implications for broader efforts to reform health care financing system.