Several benefit programs with generic labels provide financial assistance for families with autism – for those who think creatively. Sometimes you must look under every possible rock to find the monetary help they need.
Families with autistic children or adults often face ongoing predictable expenses for therapies medical and dental care, transportation costs, day care, and more. Two key works – ongoing and predictable means that any savings opportunity can make a big difference over time.
- Ways to reduce out-of-pocket costs for therapies and treatments
- Help with other ongoing expenses while raising your child
Financial Assistance for Autism Therapy
Yes, families may be able to get financial assistance for autism therapy. It does require some research and creativity. Spectrum disorders are difficult and expensive to diagnose. The most common early intervention treatments are Applied Behavioral Analysis, Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy, plus Social Skills training.
Look at health insurance and tax saving programs for longer-term help.
A portion of medical insurance plans may offer financial help for families by covering certain autism therapies. Forty-three states have enacted autism insurance reform laws, which mandate that plans cover certain remedies. However, many plans will not pay for Applied Behavioral Analysis, deeming it experimental or educational. Other mandate exclusions may apply.
- Fully insured plans generally follow mandates. Individual plans are fully insured.
- Self-insured plans do not need to comply. Many employer group plans are self-insured.
- Public plans do not need to comply. Medicaid and Medicare are public plans.
If you purchase an individual plan through a state exchange, you may qualify for premium and cost-sharing subsidies. The subsidies are income-based and phase out for families above 400% of the federal poverty level.
Request a health insurance quote. An agent will help you determine if plans in your state are subject to a mandate, and what subsidies may apply based upon your income.
Two separate tax vehicles can act like government financial grants for families to help pay for autism therapy. Many unreimbursed medical expenses are deductible. You should investigate the pros and cons of using your employer’s Flexible Spending Account vs taking deductions on Schedule A.
Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (HCFSA) can deliver first dollar tax reductions if you use the program to pay for unreimbursed therapy costs. Since these treatments often continue for years, it is easy to project your annual spending and make an appropriate election amount each plan year.
Taking deductions on Schedule A helps families without access to an FSA at work, or whose spending is extraordinarily high. The primary drawback is that you do not begin seeing any savings until your medical expenses exceed 10% of Adjusted Gross Income.
Financial Assistance for Parents of Autistic Children
Yes, parents can get financial assistance for their autistic children. You have to know where to look and be open to alternative benefit programs. You may face a lifetime of extra-unreimbursed expenses – well more than most families. Even modest savings on childcare and other incidental spending add up over time.
Be open to secondary programs, and several forms of daycare support.
Two supplemental benefit programs afford financial assistance for families of children with autism. You may expect certain outcomes to occur in the future, based upon the behaviors of your child. An informed bet may allow parents to reap more in claims than they pay in premiums.
Supplemental dental insurance can offer financial help with your autistic child’s future dental work. The plans make fixed claims payments for specified future dental treatments – including cleanings, periodontal disease, and more. You pay a fixed premium every month, and may receive far more in claims benefits in return, depending upon the amoun of dental work needed.
Any parent with a child on the spectrum will tell you that oral hygiene is a daily battle. It is very difficult to get a child with autism to brush his or her teeth. Poor oral hygiene may lead to gum disease, followed by cavities, and other major dental work.
Personal accident plans may provide financial help for parents with autistic children with behavioral problems. If your child is prone to violent tantrums, meltdowns, or outbursts involving biting, hitting, jumping, spitting, or escaping, then this plan may make great sense.
Many children with autism tend to endanger themselves and their caretakers. Sudden movements and angry outbursts can lead to accidental injuries. Minor accidents may be commonplace.
The policy may pay claims for minor incidents such as cut fingers, bites, burns, and sprains, which offsets premiums. If something more significant affects any family member, you will be very glad you bought the extra coverage.
Children with Disabilities
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits to children under the age of 18 with disabilities whose parents have limited income and resources. You will have to demonstrate that your child’s autism is a permanent disabling condition, and how it affects his or her ability to function. You will also need to present household income and asset information.
A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) can deliver financial help for your child with autism needing daycare. The parent or parents must work outside of the home in order to qualify. You can contribute up to $5,000 annually, and enjoy first dollar tax savings.
The Childcare Tax Credit is an alternative form of government sponsored financial aid for daycare for your child with autism. Consult your financial advisor as to which vehicle provides the greatest level of reduction. In general, lower income families find the credit more valuable.
The Child Care and Development Fund assists low-income families who need child care due to work, work-related training, and/or attending school. In order to be eligible for this program, you must be the parent or primary caregiver, who needs help paying for daycare services. Contact the agency in your state for more information.
- State Autism Insurance Reform Laws
- Autism Speaks Finances
- TACA Resource List
- Son-Rise Treatment Program