Medicare waiting period hurts those with early-stage Alzheimer's, report finds

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Early-onset Alzheimer's disease strikes before a person is old enough to qualify for Medicare, leaving many without health insurance. But advocates of those with the disease are lobbying to change that, according to recent news reports.

Currently, Medicare allows for early enrollment in the event of a disability or life-altering disease—but only after a two-year waiting period, according to a report this week on National Public Radio. Congress created the waiting period to reduce strain on government services and to ensure only the truly sick would qualify. But that has left thousands of disabled adults without jobs or insurance. More than 2 million individuals are currently caught on an early-enrollment waiting list, often resorting to Medicaid.

Congress currently allows those with Lou Gehrig's disease and end-stage renal disease to receive Medicare coverage without being subject to the two-year waiting period. Alzheimer's patient advocates have been focused on persuading Congress to extend the same courtesy to those with early onset dementia and Alzheimer's, NPR reported.

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