As autism spectrum disorders have increased from 1 in 166 children to 1 in 150 children, more families are being faced with the tremendous financial burden that often comes along with such a diagnosis. Inexpensive is not an adjective often used to describe autism treatments and many families are facing serious financial decisions when determining which treatment route to take with their loved one.
Private and State-funded Health Insurance
The first place that most families go to in terms of funding for diagnosis, therapy, supplements, etc. is their health insurance company. However, many health insurance companies do not cover the pricey appointment with a developmental pediatrician or the much-needed psycho-educational evaluation by experienced clinical psychologists. With fees ranging from $300 to $3000 and on up, receiving a diagnosis is often the first financial hurdle that many families face.
One option, post diagnosis, which is available to some individuals on the autism spectrum is state-funded health insurance. Many times, this insurance is managed and funded through a state’s Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). This office may provide funding for the more seriously affected children. Parents who are looking for information regarding state-funded health insurance should visit their state’s website or contact an autism support group in their area.
Securing a Second Job
It is not unheard of for family members to obtain a second job in order to pay for therapy and treatments. This usually takes the form of the primary breadwinner working two jobs to help make ends meet. If the child didn’t already have one parent staying home with him, it is not unusual for the secondary wage earner to quit his or her job in order to provide primary care for the child with autism.
This burden is two-fold. First, the secondary wage earner no longer earns an income and second, the primary breadwinner must now work more hours in order to help make ends meet. This isn’t just for families who are not in an optimal financial position: certain autism therapies can run upwards of $75,000 per year so even those with an above-average household income can be hit hard by the financial aspects of raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder.
While no official study has been done, website after website details how families have taken second and even third mortgages to help fund therapy for their child. In the housing crunch of today, some of these families are now facing foreclosure. When you ask these parents if it was worth it, many will unequivocally say yes, their child’s future was at stake and they can always find another place to live.
The reality of the increase in autism diagnoses is leading bureaucrats and family members across the United States to search for new funding options. Several states have taken steps to mandate that insurance companies provide coverage for autism spectrum disorders. One of these states is Arizona whose mandated autism insurance coverage bill will go in effect in the summer.