Although cerebral palsy (CP) is one of the most prevalent birth injuries in the United States, little has been said about the financial costs associated with caring for infants and children with the disorder. Financial costs associated with CP typically last a lifetime, and without the right planning and in many cases, assistance, the average family may find themselves overwhelmed and in debt.
Common Expenses Associated with Cerebral Palsy
In January of 2004, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released the results of an in-depth report, detailing the lifetime costs associated with CP in the United States. The report is meant to be a guideline in order to families as well as medical professionals and others to understand how costly it is to care for someone with CP, including the disabilities that affect many children with CP, such as cognitive disabilities, vision impairment and hearing loss.
Business and Economic Expenses
For people with CP, an estimated $9.241 billion accounts for a lifetime of expenses due to the loss of work, loss of work production, and early mortality. An additional $1.175 billion goes to direct medical expenses for hospital stays, therapy, rehabilitation, specialized medical equipment, lifetime care, and doctor visits. Indirect medical expenses cost an average of a little over $1 billion for special education classes and any home or vehicle modifications. A total of $52 billion is the average lifetime business and economic expenses for people with CP.
The average lifetime expenses a family may expect can go up to $921,000 for each child with CP. Children with associated disabilities will cost more; an average of a little over $1 million is needed for children with intellectual disabilities, $601,000 for vision impairment, and $383,000 for hearing loss. Keep in mind, however, that according to MMWR, the aforementioned expenses don’t include out-of-pocket costs, lost wages experienced by caregivers, or emergency room visits. In addition, each child is different and the costs may be a bit higher with one child whereas another child with CP may have lower expenses. For instance, a child with a mild form of CP may not require as much medication, hospital visits, and therapy as a child with moderate to severe CP.
Financial Help for Families
The average family simply can’t afford the extraordinary costs associated with caring for a child with CP. Even with saving and careful financial planning, many families are still overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are a myriad of options for family members and caregivers that can help relieve the financial pressure.
- Health Insurance: Medical care is necessary, and especially for a child with CP. Health insurance can help alleviate some of the high doctor bills and medication costs.
- Government Assistance: Health insurance only covers medical costs. Other expenses, such as food, tax credits, supplemental social security income (SSI), energy bills assistance, and housing and rental assistance.
- Charity Assistance: There are several groups that formed specifically to help those affected with disorders and disabilities, such as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Easter Seals, and American Foundation of Disabled Children. Each organization offers a variety of services including community support, summer camps, classes, therapy, and more.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a life care plan is a useful option in determining the costs of caring for a child with CP over a lifetime and in turn, helping families with the expenses. Each plan carefully reviews the individual needs of each child, including estimated medical expenses, care giving expenses, emotional and cognitive expenses, and more.
Life care plans give loved ones a more accurate assessment of the financial amount needed as opposed to average expenses. The costs factored into a life care plan is typically put together by physicians, nurses, economic experts, and other professionals who research and document the child’s past medical records and financial expenses, then create an estimated life time cost. A birth injury attorney then creates and sets up the life care plan on behalf of the parents.