The Cost of Autism in the Billions
The thought of a disorder costing the average family thousands of dollars annually is quite frightening, let alone the overall cost of $11.5 billion in the United States. That's exactly what what said- billion. Over $11.5 billion are spent per year, according to 2011 statistics, to care for the country's autistic children. That is enough to cover part of the country's national debt, build a full-functioning city or two. The figures are scarily high and seem to be climbing by the year.
Autism in itself is a disorder that can range from the very low to the extremely-high functioning. What does this mean? A genetic disorder that has been supported by twin studies, autism can encompass everything from one being able to conduct him or herself in society with a few quirks that define the differences to growing up but having the mind of a child and the abilities of one as well. One can be a savant, while the other non-verbal and unable to care for him/herself.
Covering the Costs
According to a news article today, an autism diagnosis brings with it an annual cost of $17,081 per child. For families barely earning their daily bread, that could mean the difference between living and merely surviving. If there are two or more children diagnosed in a family, that price tag only goes up, making life extremely difficult for the average family. Too many children with autism live with single mothers as well, if the informal surveys on Facebook groups are any indication to go by. This further increases the risk of a family falling under the poverty line, as finding proper caregivers when family and friends might shun you could create living chaos in one's life.
With the bills running high and the incomes keeping low, the government alone cannot tackle the issue of keeping American families fed, housed and meeting all their immediate needs. A 2012 study concluded that within the US alone, over $137 billion are spent annually on autism care, much of it going towards adult housing and employment issues. As such, certain companies have autism related costs covered under their insurance. Do look into the matter if you work at any of these business establishments:
- General Motors Co.
- United Technologies Corp.
- Chrysler Group
- American Express Co.
- Microsoft Corp.
- Intel Corp.
- Capital One Bank
A 2006 Harvard study estimated that it costs the average family about $3.2 million to take care of an autistic person over his or her lifetime. That would have been enough for the family to retire with and ensure a relatively comfortable lifestyle. Medical costs for families with ASD children are an average of $4,110–$6,200 per year higher than without ASD in the family. Average Medicaid-enrolled children's costs could be as high as $10,709 per child, and additional intensive behavior intervention costs could range up to $40-60,000 per child. That is one hefty amount that not everyone has the ability to spend. A UK study looking at autism costs found that the lifetime cost for someone with ASD and intellectual disability is estimated at approximately £1.23 million, and for someone with ASD without intellectual disability is approximately £0.80 million.
Unfortunately, autism is not easy on the pockets and required the government to step in and create more programs that ensure families with autism present are able to not only survive, but properly live and thrive, with appropriate supports and opportunities.