Life Planning for the Special-Needs Child

More children are born with special needs today than ever before.

For example, approximately one in sixty-eight children in the United States has an autism disorder, and diseases like juvenile diabetes are also on the upswing.

This means higher medical bills and lifelong concerns for their parents.

It’s therefore important that parents start planning as early as possible after their child’s diagnosis.

While some special-needs children will go on to a high-functioning future, others will require lifelong assistive and medical care.

This means that parents must consider how to fund their child’s future medical needs as part of their retirement planning.

While many such parents rely on Medicaid, MediCal, or TennCare, they may not qualify if their income is higher than allotted limits.

But they may qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Your insurance agent can direct you to the state agency responsible for children’s health coverage, but if CHIP is unavailable in your state, there’s another recourse: as long as one eligible parent enrolls in a health care plan, that plan cannot deny access to offspring.

In an article in the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) online, writer Maureen Hensley-Quinn notes, “Children are recognized in the ACA as a ‘diverse segment of the population’ whose health care needs should be taken into account in defining the Essential Health Benefit (EHB) package.”

A number of ACA plans offer benefits to support the health care needs of all children, including some benefits of interest to special-needs parents, such as habilitative services to help their children achieve higher levels of functioning.

Raising a special needs child can take a high physical and emotional toll on parents, and lead to their own health problems, perhaps making them more vulnerable to illness or injury.

For parents of special-needs children, both short- and long-term disability insurance is not just “nice to have,” but a “must have.”