Medical bills remain inaccessible for many visually impaired Americans

Lucy Greco (left), a web-accessibility specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, is blind. She reads most of her documents online, but employs Liza Schlosser-Olroyd as an aide to sort through her paper mail every other month, to make sure Greco hasn't missed a bill or other important correspondence.

A Missouri man who is deaf and blind said a medical bill he didn’t know existed was sent to debt collections, triggering an 11% rise in his home insurance premiums.

In a different case, from California, an insurer has suspended a blind woman’s coverage every year since 2010 after mailing printed “verification of benefits” forms to her home that she cannot read, she said. The problems continued even after she got a lawyer involved.

And still another insurer kept sending a visually impaired Indiana woman bills she said she could not read, even after her complaint to the Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights led to corrective actions.

Across the U.S., health insurers and health care systems are breaking disability rights laws by sending inaccessible medical bills and notices, a KHN investigation has found. The practice hinders the ability of blind Americans to know what they owe, effectively creating a disability tax on their time and finances.

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