Healthcare costs & system could leave kids like my son behind


Our son Griffin receives over $100K of therapies each year for autism.

“Are you here to get insurance to cover ABA?” (ABA is autism therapy.)

“Uh, no.” I said. “We’re here because we feel like Griffin should have a developmental pediatrician.”

This is how much insurance is in the discussion these days in the autism community, heck, in America. It was the topic of our first discussion at our first meeting with a new pediatrician.

I’m not criticizing him at all. The last note he had in our file from another doctor at his office was such a request from three years ago. Then Griffin was too young to get a diagnosis that would be acceptable for the insurance company.

This was pre-Affordable Care Act. Our monthly premiums were around $275 and our deductible was in the $8,000 range. This was also during a time that many health insurances excluded autism and/or autism was treated as a preexisting condition.

Today with insurance courtesy of the ACA, we pay a monthly premium of $800 per month, plus Uncle Sam chips in a $300 per month subsidy, which makes the total premium $1,100.  Three years ago our deductible was around $9,000, and today our deductible is now $13,000. That’s right, the cost of our monthly premium (the total cost) has gone up $825 and our deductible has gone up $4,000. (Our insurance pre-ACA did cover autism, thankfully.)

There is no doubt that insurance through the Affordable Care Act is becoming unaffordable. When critics talk about the ACA collapsing, I see it happening. We can’t afford not to have insurance for our son Griffin, who receives $100,000 of services per year in therapies, but, honestly, we can barely afford to have health insurance at this point.

Health care is our largest monthly expense.

Not that we would, but if we decided to live fast and furiously and convert our monthly premium into a car payment, we could buy this Alfa Romeo 4c Coupe.


Or, if we decide to squirrel away and invest $1,100/month, we could save $600,000 by the time I am 60 (22 years from now).

All kids should receive the proper medical attention, regardless of their parents’ employment status or income

The doctor and I had a discussion about the uncertainty of our insurance. We kept it very apolitical. He seemed worried that we could be facing a time again where insurance companies exclude autism. That they exclude kids like Griffin getting therapies that can help so much. We’re fortunate I guess because we’re almost done with the biggest therapy expenses as Griff gets ready to enter kindergarten this fall.

Still, it’s a scary time for us right now. I can only imagine how scary it must be for those still facing years of such big health care bills.

Maybe I’m a hippy (I am wearing an alpaca beanie as I write this), but I think all kids with autism or other health issues, should receive the proper therapies and medical attention, regardless of their parents’ employment status or income.

I’m not anti-capitalism, but I do think there are certain areas where it doesn’t work. One of those areas is health care. If you told me I needed a $3 million surgery or I was going to die next week,  I’d say, “Let’s do it!” And in turn, if an insurance company, which is legally obligated to maximize profits for its shareholders, is allowed to make a decision on whether or not to insure Griffin’s ABA therapy, they’re going to say, “Hell no!”

No one seems to think that “The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017” is all that great. (And that title?! There should be a cabinet position for a writer. Secretary of Sentences?) It doesn’t look like this plan would discriminate against those with preexisting conditions, but who knows what the final product will look like or what it’ll do to premiums and deductibles. So far it’s predicted that it would create 15 million uninsured Americans.

I don’t think this situation would be any better had president Clinton won. The political will and maturity and patience and focus does not exist in our nation to fix our healthcare system, regardless of who is president. So Americans suffer, die, and go bankrupt.

Get a “real” job?


Griff opened up his mouth for the doctor to check inside. There was no need for the doctor to do this, but he did it anyhow to humor Griffin. Then Griffin leaned over and pointed to his butt, apparently ready for a butt check (?).

This kid is hilarious. I would do anything for him…

I would pay $800 per month to improve his chances of living a happy productive life.

I would sell my favorite basketball cards, my car (a Pontiac G6 with 160K miles), and my house to do so.

My impact as a writer/speaker is much greater than almost any “real job” I could have, at least if feels like that. My earning potential is much higher than any “real job” I could land. Yet I would give it all up to have him, my wife and daughter, healthy.

And you know what? I just might have to.

The doctor wants to see us back in a year. Maybe we’ll still have health insurance.


Let your voice be heard!