When dealing with your children – be it summer camp, recreational activities, or whathaveyou, it all comes down in the end to how you have to pay for whatever it is. The same goes for autism related medical expenses.
I obviously read quite a bit online. I follow a couple of national organizations that deal with autism research and advocacy – and several of late have been discussing the costs associated with having an autistic child. Having a child is never cheap – I think the latest figure I saw was that it costs $300k to raise a child born this year until they’re eighteen, and that doesn’t count the potential cost of college. Having a child with an ASD only adds to that expense.
I tend to plan my posts somewhat off the cuff, but an article yesterday about families moving because of insurance coverage requirements caught my attention. The article, concentrating specifically on Utah, discussed having to move away from family and friends to get insurance that would cover the treatments their children needed.
We live in Maryland – one of the states that does not require insurance companies to cover autism-related treatments and a state that has now thrice failed to pass a law changing that fact of life. (We do have Low Intensity Support Services funding in state, as well as an ‘autism medicaid waiver’ program here, though as I understand them, neither covers treatment.) The insurance I have through work does, thankfully, cover ABA, speech therapy and occupational therapy to a limited extent, and we’re finding ourselves turning to that this summer since we weren’t approved for ESY by Baltimore City. This also doesn’t cover the fact that my wife is having a devil of a time finding an ABA provider that our insurance will pay, since their site doesn’t list any such providers in our state, and she’s having to call practices that offer the other therapies to see if they do ABA.
The article, though, brought up a serious discussion at the dinner table about what we might do if the insurance situation changed. (I had to point out that just because our insurance does cover those things today doesn’t mean that they’ll cover them in 2013, for example.) The current law in Maryland requires them to cover speech, occupational and physical therapies, but there’s no requirement for behavioral therapies. Would we move if the insurance company decided to stop offering ABA since they’re not legally compelled to do so in Maryland, and because we’re looking to get that therapy for the Monster as soon as we find a practice we like?
I’m one of the lucky ones – I work for a company with locations in states that do require ABA coverage and could relocate without quitting my job. (And more importantly – we have at least some family in those states, so it’s not like we’d completely overturn our lives and isolate ourselves. Still… it’s upsetting to think that, in the Twenty-First Century, people have to move to get their children the help they need in what is, supposedly, the greatest country on Earth.