Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Financial Impact Of Caring For People With Cerebral Palsy

While finances may be the last thing one would want to worry about when they find out their child has cerebral palsy, it is something that will eventually rear its ugly head. There can be significant costs to care for a person with cerebral palsy (CP) throughout their life. Although the health of the child is always the largest concern, finances can be yet another burden for families caring for a loved one with CP.

Direct And In-Direct Costs

Every year, there are between 8,000-10,000 infants born with CP in the U.S. Even with significant improvements in medical science and technology, this number has remained fairly constant over the last 30 years. There are an estimated 764,000 living with at least one symptom of CP in the U.S. It is estimated that this comes at a nationally cost of $11.5 billion a year, but this does not include many every day costs that families face.
According to a study done in 2003 by RTI International (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) and the CDC, the costs per person with CP over a lifetime can average close to a million dollars, $921,000. However, if the person also has other disabilities such as mental retardation, the costs can be averaged at significantly more than one million per person. Some of the costs figured into these care expenses are:
  • Direct and in-direct medical costs. This would include direct costs of doctor visits, inpatient care and therapy. Additional costs include special equipment and devices, modifications to homes and vehicles and other needs related to caring for the medical condition.
  • In-direct non-medical costs. This was the largest portion of the costs, relating to loss of income due to the medical condition. However, this does not include many family costs such as residential care and caregivers.
These are just estimates and still leave many costs unaccounted for. For families that care for children or family members with CP, there are many out-of-pocket expenses that are not calculated into these numbers. Time needed away from work, emergency room visits, special diets and many other considerations all add to the costs.

Financial Help For Families

For families struggling to cover expenses related to caring for a person with CP, there are some options to consider. There is government, private and charitable programs for those who need assistance. While no one wants to have to ask for help, sometimes it is necessary.
  • Government funding. There are a variety of government programs to help those with disabilities or caring for someone with a disability such as CP. These include public assistance, low cost medical care, nutritional supplements and tax credits.
  • Non-profit organizations. Many communities have local organizations to help families in need. These may include volunteer or low cost caregiver services, transportation and other services.
  • Charitable groups. Many charitable groups help with counseling, resources, equipment and even some funding for families in need.
In some circumstance, families caring for a person with CP may be able to receive financial compensation due to medical errors or accidents that contributed to what caused the condition.
The additional strain of the financial burden of a disease like CP can be stressful and create hardship for some families. Using the resources and help that is available can at least relieve some of the extra costs and hopefully improve the quality of life and care their loved one receives. Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5303a4.htm http://www.cerebral-palsy-faq.org/articles/cost-of-therapies-for-cerebral-palsy-patients-makes-legal-action-necessary/ http://cerebralpalsy.org/about-cerebral-palsy/cost-of-cerebral-palsy/ Prepared by:
Jonathan Rosenfeld
33 North Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60602
(888) 424-5757

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