My daughter’s health insurance company couldn’t care less
September 29, 2014
OPINION By HILARY GRANT
Looking back, it all began when my smart, beautiful and spirited teenage daughter was in first grade.
Her teachers told me Katie could hear perfectly well, but darn it, she just didn’t listen. Treated as a behavior problem for years, I now know that, in fact, my child was physically unable to listen.
My daughter suffers from Central Auditory Processing Disorder, often known as CAPD. Recognized as a bona fide disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Katie hears fine, but her brain has a difficult time processing words and ideas.
There can be a genetic link to this learning difference, and it is also common in children who have suffered from multiple ear infections at a young age. Or, like Katie, it’s common for children who lived in orphanages for the few months or years of their lives, often starved, and then, like my child, were finally adopted. Katie was nine months old the day I took her home from China.
Although lots of folks have never heard of it, CAPD is a very big deal.
Why? For one thing, the specialized audiologist who diagnosed Katie believes up to 70 percent of those in prison suffer from some sort of learning difference that was never diagnosed and never treated. I’m a pretty cynical cookie, but this figure astounds me.
Still, it makes sense.
After all, kids with CAPD, and other learning differences, often do poorly in school, suffering from short-term memory, an inability to take notes and crippling test anxiety.
The good news is that CAPD can be successfully treated. With a trained specialist working one-on-one with a child, along with equipment that includes special CDs, headphones and other auditory props, permanent improvement can often be seen within a few months.
The bad news is that most health insurance companies—including MediCal, which my daughter has, or California Children’s Services, which is supposed to cover what MediCal won’t—refuse to pay for either diagnosis or treatment costs, which can quickly add up to several thousand dollars. This, despite the fact that CAPD is a physical impairment that affects learning and living, just like being deaf or blind affects learning and living.
No child wants to fail school. But as long as physical learning differences are left uncovered by health insurance, tens of thousands of children will continue to go undiagnosed and untreated. This is a recipe for disaster into adulthood.
I’m just one mom crying in the desert. So, I created an online petition to demand that children with these physical impairments be covered by health insurance companies. It’s a small start, but it is a start.
Scrape a few million dollars off the obscene bonuses made by health insurance CEOs, and I promise you, the money will be there.
Please, sign my petition at change.org.
Hilary Grant is a writer, cookie baker and mom who lives in Los Osos
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