Inaccessible medical bills creating 'disability tax' for visually impaired: report

Health systems and insurers are sending inaccessible medical bills and notices, breaking disability rights laws and "effectively creating a disability tax" for blind Americans, according to a Nov. 1 report from Kaiser Health News

Four things to know:

1. Some blind patients told Kaiser Health News letters they receive can be impossible to read. Issues include coding on websites that is incompatible with screen reader technology. Some systems and payers fail to mail documents in Braille. Other patients who can read large print with aid said small-print bills they receive are indecipherable.  

2. Missouri resident Stuart Salvador told the news outlet it can take him up to six hours to convert a printed medical bill into Braille. He said he has been sent to collection multiple times through automatic medical debt referral systems after providers sent him bills he could not read. That has resulted in his home insurance carrier raising his annual premium by 11 percent. 

3. Kaiser Health News found multiple accessibility issues on the websites for Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and UnitedHealthcare. All three told the outlet they are dedicated to making their services accessible.

4. Those with visual impairments can be left with two options, disability rights attorney Albert Elia told the news outlet. One is to hope for government action, and the other is to pursue a lawsuit, which can be a long and expensive process. 

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