Throughout the years, millions of Kentucky residents have found employment in coal mines. With these jobs come some hazards that are expected and others that do not show their symptoms until years down the road. One of these conditions that workers develop that may be covered under a federal benefits program is black lung. FindLaw lists the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA) as the guideline for medical benefits and monthly payments for miners disabled by black lung disease, also referred to by WebMD as pneumoconiosis.
Considered a job-related sickness, black lung disease develops over a long period of time as miners breathe in coal dust. These particles settle into the lungs and airways, stimulating healthy tissue to rid the body of them. As the immune system works to get rid of the particles, inflammation is common. Eventually, this inflammation can cause fibrosis, or scarring. The prognosis and treatment depend on the severity of the condition.
In Kentucky, coal miners and their surviving dependents may apply for benefits under the law. The program was designed to provide diagnostic testing, prescription drug coverage, durable medical equipment, hospitalization coverage and outpatient therapy.
The BLBA covers costs for doctor’s office visits, consultation and hospital visits. It also provides compensation or outpatient and inpatient hospital charges, including any visits to the emergency room for chest X-rays and diagnostic laboratory testing for those with acute related conditions. Generic and brand name prescription drugs approved by the program are also covered, along with ambulance services related to black lung care and travel to the clinic, hospital or doctor for rounds trips under 200 miles.
Some medical costs are not covered under the Federal Black Lung Program, such as home health aides or travel to the drugstore. Those who suffer from black lung disease may benefit from seeking the help of a workers’ compensation attorney.