What are Special Needs?
Here in the United States, special needs comprise a variety of ailments, illnesses and chronic conditions. To qualify for Special Needs Care, you might have to fit into a few categories. Ultimately, when we are seeking healthcare for people with Special Needs, interestingly enough the United States has a few special ways for caring for those people via Medicare benefits.
America has a lot of people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs, just like everywhere else in the world. Thankfully, there are Medicare Advantage plans that can assist those people specifically. It is not exactly easy to take advantage of those plans though, since the United States makes people with substance abuse issues jump through a lot of hoops to receive care and support. But it is important to know that technically, this assistance exists.
Technically, student loan forgiveness exists for many student borrowers in America. But the Department of Education has historically refused to assist people, even those who fit within the very narrow confines of the requirements. When we think about Special Needs (https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-are-special-needs-3106002) folks in America, it is very easy to consider these people in terms of the way we think about student borrowers. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get your medical issues any help when you are already having a difficult time advocating for yourself in America writ large.
If you have debilitating, painful mental health issues, you are more likely to end up as a cog in the machine of America’s prison industrial complex than you are in the arms of a trusted healthcare provider. This is because in the United States, though slavery was outlawed by the thirteenth amendment, the fine print of that amendment states that people can be enslaved if they have committed a crime. As a result, for the past 170 plus years, America has expanded its prison system to maintain illicit and unethical labour.
Where Do We Go From Here?
What does this have to do with Special Needs issues? Well, people with mental health issues are far more likely to end up committing crimes as a result of becoming dependent on drugs. This is because America has decreased its focus on preventative medicine over the course of the last 100 years. This occurred because in 1968, with the ratification of the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of 1970, America technically was supposed to legally expand access to all social services and programs to African Americans. In lieu of sharing with people of all races, the United States chose to scale back those services instead.
This sounds like the epitome of cutting off your nose to spite your face, right? Well, that is exactly what has occurred over the years. In wanting to funnel poor Americans into the prison industrial complex, we have minimized our respect and care that we offer to those with mental health issues. Additionally, we have gone from a system that treats drug abuse and alcohol dependence as a medical issue and we have instead penalized and criminalized drug users. So while the Special Needs area of Medicare exists, it is very difficult to access this support.
How Can C-SNP Plans Help?
That being said, a C-SNP (Chronic Special Needs Plan) can really help someone who has fallen through the cracks of society with their issues, especially those with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues. On its face, a Special Needs Plan under Medicare is obviously meant to assist people with chronic conditions like cancer, COPD, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, heart failure and many others. This is intended to catch those who would have slipped through our healthcare system before the Affordable Care Act made it illegal to prevent health insurance companies from denying care to people with pre-existing conditions.
If you did not know, the United States used to make people pay for healthcare only to have that healthcare denied when people needed it most, because they considered almost everything that could happen to you a pre-existing condition. That meant that if you were sick or hurt before you acquired health insurance, these companies were within their rights, legally, to deny you coverage even though you had been paying into these plans for years on end. This deeply unethical and terrible system was finally done away with by Barack Obama, who modeled the Affordable Care Act on the healthcare system proposed by Utah Senator and former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.
Even though Mitt Romney was “from across the aisle” as Americans describe political rivals, that did not endear this plan to members of the Republican party. As a result, they stripped the Affordable Care Act of any chance to be updated and improved before it passed, making it deeply unpopular in its first iteration. You can learn more about the struggle to advance healthcare in America on the internet. Thus, the idea of preexisting conditions being shelved and making it over the finish line was an incredible feat. Therefore, the existence of Chronic Special Needs Plans, when taken in historical context, represent a massive step forward for American healthcare.