BARC’s Comprehensive Health Program – Helping those that need help most!
Despite the importance of good health, most adults with developmental disabilities do not have adequate insurance coverage. This has occurred as a direct result of economic hard times that hit the State of California beginning in late 2008 with severe repercussions to dental, vision, hearing and medical benefits for low-income individuals. For example, State lawmakers reduced their Denti-Cal benefit as a cost-saving measure in July 2009. Exceptions are only made when the health and safety of the individual is in immediate jeopardy, or in rare cases when the need for dental care is related to the disability. The diagnostic and preventive dental services that most of us take for granted – x-ray, exam and cleaning – are not covered. What does this mean in real terms? Simply stated, a dental problem must progress to the point where it becomes a medical condition eligible for MediCal before it can be treated. A simple cavity must progress to the point where the tooth becomes abscessed, with an infection threatening the life of the patient, before it can be treated as a medical condition. At this point, the tooth is likely to be pulled, which may solve the immediate problem but is counter-productive for daily living functions like speaking and eating.
Another important health benefit lost in July of 2009, was funding for eyeglasses. Currently optometry services such as eye exams are only covered for Medi-Cal beneficiaries every 24 months. Incredibly, corrective eye lenses are not covered. Some basic eyeglasses cost about $50, but others with severe vision loss require eyeglasses costing up to $1,500. In many cases, individuals with disabilities often cause damage to their prescription eye lenses. And when they cannot afford the out of pocket expense to replace them, they have to do without. The same applies to hearing aids when they become damaged or need new batteries. In all cases the hearing aids must be replaced at some point in time because of the changes in individual hearing and the reliability and life of hearing aids. The cost can ranges from $150 to $2,800 or more depending on the type of hearing device required.
The Comprehensive Health Program is a one of a kind health intervention program that focuses on four areas of health concern; oral (dental), vision, hearing and medical (routine exams). BARC utilizes local funding, local healthcare providers and its own professional client services staff to provide health assistance to as many adults with developmental disabilities as possible who do not have access to health care for dental, vision, hearing or medical care. At least 95% of all participants will receive no cost health services and 100% of all participants will receive services that eliminate a poor health condition.
The goal of the Health Program is to help improve the overall health of 100% of identified adults with developmental disabilities and thereby avoiding serious health and medical problems that might otherwise occur. The program is designed to improve over each prior year. This is the third year of the program.
The health program produces a health report on an annual basis which identifies program successes and any areas needing improvement. This report documents all health services performed for the elimination of a poor health condition for each developmentally disabled adult serviced by the program.