I remember, after many conversations with our regular pediatrician, when she referred us to the state for evaluation. She gave us a sheet of paper with the contact information on it for the Early Intervention Program through the state of Arizona. Our son, not yet 2 years old, was having major difficulties eating, didn’t really speak, flapped his arms when he was excited, and hid in the corner when things overwhelmed him or was frustrated. These were only a few of the many symptoms we soon discovered he had.
I was nervous calling at first because I didn’t know what to expect, but having worked in a public school district I was familiar with the terms and lingo used. Our son was evaluated by 3 different groups of specialists and was eventually assigned a case worker. This process took about 3 months and we accumulated quite a stack of paperwork.
In Arizona, the families bear a portion of the cost for therapies. At the time we started, the state covered everything. Come nearly 6 months later, we were told we had to pay a percentage based upon our income but we didn’t receive a bill for it until March for November’s therapies! It has been an extra burden that we have tried to cover without it affecting anything else in our budget but an extra $200-$300 a month sometimes is hard. And on top of that, we will still be paying for his therapies long after he has started school in August.
Our son has 3 therapists and we finally have a team that is actually able to work well with him. Once he turns 3, the state will no longer cover him and he is transferred to the school district. His Developmental Pediatrician wants him to continue therapy after he starts preschool, but our insurance might not cover any of it and he might not be eligible for long term disability through the state.
Paying for therapies is always a huge burden on parents and it seems like in Arizona, this is a larger burden than most states. We even had a therapist tell us to move out of Arizona so our son could get his therapy fully covered. If you have to go down this same road of early intervention, check with your insurance before agreeing to a particular therapist. If your insurance can cover some of the therapy, your portion will be much smaller and easier to manage. Not all insurance companies will cover these types of therapies.
Unfortunately, some types of therapists are scarce and you might just have to take whoever is available and deal with the payment issues later. Some companies are very diligent about working with the families and the insurance companies to make sure that the families aren’t greatly impacted finanacially. The state contracts with the companies and then they bill the state for the therapies. If you have insurance, they will try to bill the insurance and they will bill the state for the difference.
Keeping up with all of the paperwork and bills is a tough task and requires you to be very diligent in filing the paperwork and following up with bills and payments. In the end, it has been worth it for our son to receive these therapies but a challenge in weeding through all of the state and insurance paperwork.