This final article about surviving the transition from having your health care needs met by the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program to having to pay for them out of pocket or with extremely limited coverage gets down to brass tacks. We talked for the last two articles about ways that you could get your medical bills paid through alternative routes – now it's time to talk about what happens when you have to choose between paying for (as an example) your electric bill … or your insulin.
When you're a disabled young adult and the Federal and State programs have all collapsed around you, it can seem as though you're in a nightmare. If you've only managed to scrape together a few hundred dollars, what do you pay first, your rent or the copay for your necessary weekly doctor's visit? In most places, the answer is that you pay your medical bills, and you look for a charity or some other assistance to pay your costs of living. That's because there are a lot of different costs for living, and there are both government programs and charitable organizations for each – but there are few that are willing to address the problem of a chronically disabled person's long-term medical bills.
Where to Start
Two good places to start are Disability.gov's list of Quick Links for low-income individuals and families, and the Federal Government Benefit Finder. Between the two of them, you'll find links to sign up for:
• The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP aka Food Stamps)
• Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug benefits)
• The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP – pays heating bills)
• Rental assistance opportunities through your local Community Action Council
• And several other services.
Basic Budgeting and Money Management Skills
If your particular set of special needs doesn't preclude keeping a budget and managing your own money, you'll find that there are plenty of resources out there to help you learn how to do that independently. There's an excellent PDF available that acts as a basic workbook on budgeting and money management for people with disabilities; find it here. There are also numerous tools available at mymoney.gov as well.
Getting a Car as a Low-Income Disabled Adult
As long as your budgeting skills (above) allow for it, it is possible (albeit challenging) for a disabled adult with a strong story to acquire a car at no cost on the website FreeCharityCars.org. They give away about a car every month, and they have dozens of people sign up every day, so it's not an easy thing to do – but if you have the time and energy to tell your story, it might just be very, very worth it.
If not, once again, Disability.gov offers a great list of places that offer assistance in obtaining inexpensive cars.
Buying a Home as a Low-Income Disabled Adult
… might sound like a pipe dream, but there are a surprising number of programs that can help you accomplish this noble goal. The list of disabled-friendly mortgage lenders at Disabled-World.com can give you plenty of information to start from, including a list of both nationwide and state-level lenders.
Life after EPSDT and without Medicaid coverage can be extremely challenging – but the resources are out there, and change is being made, even if in tiny increments, every day.