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Insurance And Financial Issues You May Encounter While Raising Your Child

Apr 19, 2008
Millions of Americans lack private or public health insurance for at least part of each year, and the number of uninsured continues to grow. Children under the age of 18 make up a large percentage of the uninsured, even though their parents work. Many families who do have health insurance face high out-of-pocket expenses for deductions and co-payments. Also they may have to pay for medical services that are not covered with the health insurance provider. Families with children who have special needs often experience financial hardship from inadequate insurance, limitations on benefits, lack of coverage for certain types of services or equipment, and limits on maximum lifetime benefits in addition to the burden of day-to-day care for their child. Some health insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, or require you to wait a certain length of time before the condition will be covered. If you are switching to a new health care plan, make sure your child's condition will be covered. Read the insurance policy carefully or ask your employee benefits representative or insurance agent exactly what types of services will be covered.

Most services provided in a hospital are covered by insurance and managed care plans, but many community-based services-nursing services, social work, nutrition services, physical and occupational therapy, respite care, and family counseling-are not covered or are only partially covered. You may have to pay for such services yourself. If you feel that your child has been wrongly denied coverage for a service, contact your employee benefits department, insurance agent, or the state department of insurance.

If you do not have private health insurance or have a modest policy that leaves many medical bills inadequately covered, ask your child's doctor, a social worker, or a local advocacy group for information about public and private sources of financial help. Civic, social welfare and religious groups sometimes have funds available for at least emergency or short-term medical needs. Local charitable foundations can also be a source of assistance. Ask your chamber of commerce about local businesses that donate money to causes that help children. Be creative, resourceful, and patient in your search for help. Also remember to be persistent in your search. Sometimes it may be frustrating trying to get help for your child, however be persistent with your search.

Children with extreme medical needs often qualify for the federal Medicaid health insurance program, but eligibility requirements vary from state to state. Many other government programs have been established to help families through a crisis or to meet their basic needs, such as for food. These programs include emergency and temporary cash assistance programs, the food stamps program, the Supplemental Security Income program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and food distribution programs. See if your child is eligible for any of these programs. To find out what benefits may be available to you, contact your state public assistance agency, your local Social Security Office, and local chapters of national advocacy organizations. Reductions in federal and state income taxes are available to all taxpayers who incur excessive expenses from caring for a child with a chronic illness or disabilities.
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