If you're raising a child who's been diagnosed with ADHD, you know how quickly the bills pile up.
First, there are the costs of the initial psychological testing and diagnosis. Then there may be the expense of psychological or behavioral counseling, doctor visits, and sometimes ADHD medication. Hiring educational tutors, a child advocate, or even a paying for a specialized private school may also be critical to getting your child on the path to success.
Between the challenges of negotiating accommodations at school and reimbursements with their health insurance provider, many families can't find the time to research ways to finance ADD treatment. In fact, 63% of the families who responded to a recent poll conducted by Schwab Learning did not know that tax benefits for LD and ADD exist.
And when we queried our own readers about these cost-cutting strategies, we heard back from you: "Tax benefits? FSAs? Tell me more!" We say, Read on!, and find your way to fiscal relief.
Pamela: Finding her way in Florida
"I've looked at my son's ADD-related expenses as I would any medical expense, including his braces or those we had when he broke his thumb skateboarding," says Pamela, a 47-year-old single mother, whose 15-year-old son, Jared, was diagnosed with ADD before first grade. "I knew there were going to be financial obstacles, but I was determined not to let him slip through the cracks," Pamela says.
Until Pamela and her husband divorced three years ago, Jared's father's health plan covered most of Jared's medical needs. Since then, it quickly became too costly to cover both Jared and his sister, Dana, now 13, under the plan offered by the Florida nonprofit for which Pamela worked.
She explored her options and found that Jared qualified for Florida Healthy Kids, a public-private initiative that helps uninsured kids gain access to affordable health care, which Pamela admits causes a few headaches but ultimately helps. The biggest annoyance: The insurance covers only 30 pills a month, though Jared's prescription stipulates that he takes Strattera twice a day. "Every 30 days I have to go through a lengthy 'override,' because it does not carry from month to month," Pamela says. In order for the pills to be approved, Jared's doctor must get involved every month.
Education accounts for the family's most significant ADD-related expense. Jared has attended both public and private schools, but neither was able to meet his needs. So this year, Pamela made the tough (and expensive) decision to send him to the Vanguard School, a specialized boarding school, about two hours away.
At Vanguard, Jared has a college-preparatory curriculum tailored to his needs. Pamela accessed every resource — including funds from a trust and borrowing from her parents — to cover tuition. She's responsible for fees for room and board and appointments with an on-campus psychologist. Due to the nature of the institution, the entire cost of attending Vanguard (including room, board and tuition) qualifies as an expense taken against the medical deduction according to the IRS, so Pamela anticipates a refund on this year's tax return. In the meantime, she is certain that, despite the financial concessions she needs to make, Vanguard is worth it.
"He has small classes and learning accommodations and assistance," she says. "Now he's regularly getting As and Bs. Four years of positive achievement is worth any price."
Pamela's Smart Moves
- Took advantage of Florida Healthy Kids, a state program for the uninsured and underinsured.
- Enlisted the help of family members in order to fund a specialized boarding school for her son.
- Pursues monthly overrides, so that her insurance covers her son's entire prescription.
- Found her son a school for which all associated costs count toward the medical tax deduction.
Mary: Managing a Texas-sized burden
"Some months, our medical expenses surpass our house payments," laments Mary, a 41-year-old mother of four children, two of whom have ADD along with other conditions. It's estimated that 65 percent of children diagnosed with ADD will have one or more comorbid conditions at some point in their lives.
This article appeared in ADDitude Magazine.
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To discuss cost-effective ADHD treatment with others, visit the ADHD Medications support group on ADDConnect.