Speech therapy is an effective way to overcome many communication and speech disorders such as articulation disorders, fluency disorders and stammering, receptive disorders, expressive disorders, cognitive communication disorders and others. It is, however, prohibitively expensive for the average Indian. Keeping this in mind, it is good to factor in speech therapy coverage while selecting a health insurance policy for yourself or your loved ones.
If you have no speech disorder, you may wonder whether this is at all necessary. However, remember that speech disorders are not only congenital but can arise at any time due to accident or illness. The good news is that speech therapy related expenses are covered by many health insurance providers in India. The coverage offered against speech therapy, however, varies from plan to plan.
Conditions Under Which Speech Therapy Costs are Covered
Some plans offer speech therapy cost coverage only for children and persons between three and twenty five years of age. Some policies may cover speech therapy-related expenses if the requirement arises out of a medical condition only. Development-related speech therapy disorders will not be covered under such policies.
Others cover the cost of speech therapy if the related disorder occurs due to an accident or illness as part of the post-hospitalisation expense coverage. Sometimes, this coverage is provided through the critical illness add-on cover. However, the diagnosis must prove that speech disorder results from a critical illness.
As with most health insurance policies, this coverage of expenses against speech therapy can only be availed after the end of the waiting period specified in your policy document. This could be anywhere between thirty days and upwards.
For an adult diagnosed with a communication disorder requiring speech therapy due to a chronic disease, the waiting period under the critical illness plan may be 90 days or more. If the disorder needing speech therapy is classified as a pre-existing medical condition, the waiting period may be anywhere between two to four years. Some policies may also specify a mandatory co-payment.
You may want to clarify the conditions under which speech therapy-related expenses are covered by the health insurance plan before picking the best plan.
Supplementing Speech Therapy Sessions Under a Trained Practitioner with Sessions at Home
Even though your health insurance policy covers speech therapy-related costs, you may find that it will not cover the entire cost due to the expensive and prolonged nature of treatment. You also may not be in a position to spend hours on travel to take your child or family member to the therapist’s chamber for daily sessions. In such a case, you might consider supplementing the sessions with the speech therapy sessions at home.
While this may sound daunting at first, you can use several simple techniques to augment the sessions provided by the trained speech therapist. These include:
- Keeping the child/patient in front of the mirror and making him/her enunciate the words slowly after you.
- Have reading sessions as per the level of the child or patient. Make these sessions more interesting by reading aloud as well.
- Making the child blow air into straws. It helps build muscular strength of muscles vital to clear speech. You could also include balloon-blowing sessions, especially if the child/patient is young or children are around to enjoy playing with the balloons.
- Have singing sessions.
- Be sensitive to the challenge faced by your child/patient. Never make fun. Sensitise those who do so, even if this is meant as harmless fun.
While checking for critical illness coverage under various medical insurance plans is commonplace, the need for speech therapy cost coverage is often forgotten or neglected. However, as the ability to communicate effectively is vital for our social and psychological well-being, speech therapy coverage under health insurance needs is paramount while evaluating the different policies available in the market. If you already own a medical insurance policy, now would be a good time to check to see if this cost is covered. If it is not, you may wish to look to upgrade your plan or port to a service provider that offers such coverage.