People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are excluded from existing health care system and have inadequate opportunities to be healthy due to limited training of, and inadequate reimbursement for, providers. Their “cascade of disparities” include a higher prevalence of adverse health conditions, less access to health promotion programs, inadequate attention to care needs, and inadequate access to quality health care services.
Addressing the health needs of this under-served minority population is crucial to the success of efforts to reduce disparities and costs. Although people with ID are only 1%-3% of the overall population, their unmet health needs significantly escalate health care costs. Within Medicaid, for example, people with ID represent a small percentage of the overall recipient population but account for a disproportionate share of spending.
Researchers estimate that eliminating health disparities among disadvantaged groups in the United States would save the health system $230 billion over four years. To learn more about cost drivers, including preventable secondary conditions, see the complete case statement.
Also, hear from Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne on the importance of speaking up and being persistent when communicating with health care providers: