Strategies for Affordable Speech Therapy via Telepractice
Are you looking forward to the holidays? If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last month writing down the perfect gift ideas for everyone on your list. It’s great to take a break from your everyday routine now and then, but holiday spending can put quite a dent in your budget. And raising a child with special needs can stretch your budget to the max. On top of speech therapy sessions, your child might have occupational therapy, physical therapy, applied behavioral analysis (ABA), and countless visits to the doctor’s office. Speech therapy can be affordable, but it might require a little trial-and-error to find the solution that best fits your family’s needs.
This week, we’ve focused on online speech therapy. Learning proper articulation with online resources like Speech Buddies University is a great way to keep your child engaged in the lesson plan. Plus, accelerating your child’s progress with the use of Speech Buddies in addition to other speech therapy techniques can help reduce the total amount of speech therapy required. This can cut your bill drastically – which is definitely helpful when you’re juggling gift-buying for all those fashionistas, jewelry lovers, and others on your holiday list. Here’s a look at some strategies for making online speech therapy (aka telepractice) affordable for your family.
Private Health Insurance
Before you sign your child up for telepractice for speech therapy, call your health insurance company (if applicable) and ask if your policy covers telemedicine. Aetna and Cigna have jumped on board with telemedicine, for example. If your health insurance policy does cover telemedicine, make sure that the covered services include speech therapy.
Some states have actually passed laws requiring coverage of telemedicine that is comparable to office visits. These states are:
- New Hampshire
If your health insurance policy does not cover telepractice for speech therapy, consider approaching your employer’s human resources department. Ask the representative if the company would consider exploring additional insurance options. Point out that telepractice has been backed by years of research and is endorsed by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
In some states, Medicaid will cover the cost of telepractice for speech therapy. If you do not currently have health insurance or Medicaid, check with your state’s Medicaid office to find out if your family is eligible for coverage under that program or under CHIP. As well, ask if Medicaid in your state will cover the cost of online speech therapy. Bear in mind that Medicaid requires all speech therapists and other healthcare providers to follow state-specific legislation. Some states require speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to have a valid license not only in their home state, but also in the states in which their clients reside. When you explore your state’s legislation, make a note of where the speech therapist lives.
Free! – Ask Your Child’s School about IEPs
Unless you’re new to the world of special needs, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) already. But just in case you haven’t, an IEP is a written document that allows your child access to free special education services, including speech therapy, via his school. Some schools already use telepractice for speech therapy because the district might not have access to local, qualified SLPs.
The first step in getting your child an IEP is to ask his school for an evaluation for speech disorders. You can also contact your state’s education agency for a referral for an evaluation for special ed. If your child is found to be eligible for special education services, discuss the use of telepractice with his IEP team. If they are reluctant to include it in your child’s IEP, you might point out that telepractice will allow your child to work with an SLP who specializes in your child’s particular speech disorder. You might also mention that telepractice can help ease the burden of heavy caseloads for school SLPs.