Start Your Financial Planning Early
It's a costly road ahead, and reviewing finances is an important and sobering thing to do. You'll need to learn what your insurance will or will not cover. State laws vary on insurance autism coverage (25 states have enacted autism insurance reform laws). In 2006, Michael Ganz, the Adjunct Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, led a study on the lifetime costs of caring for a person with autism, which appeared in the book Understanding Autism: From Basic Neuroscience to Treatment, edited by Steve Moldin and John Rubenstein. He found that it can cost about $3.2 million to care for a person with autism over her lifetime. In a Harvard School of Public Health press release, Ganz stated that the figure likely underestimates the true costs because alternative therapies can be paid out-of-pocket by families.
Often one parent takes on the brunt of care while the other one works, and one salary may not be enough to cover the expenses. Dr. Sadiq says, "I always tell my patients to secure an educational and medical model and get done the evaluations and tests that are covered by their insurance first. Nutrition is a simple and potent tool to start with. Some of the complex testing done using the biomedical model can be quite expensive and not all covered by insurance. This must be planned and done on a gradient. Parents must also avail themselves of the system and get what they're entitled to through the Board of Education." Most parents decide early on that they won't compromise on treatment because of costs, Goring says. As the years go by, the expenses pile up and the financial burden can be a huge strain. "In those early days, if you don't already have a handle on your income -- what's going in, what's going out -- you should. Start your financial planning early."