Health Information Center

When Insurance Won’t Pay: Options and Ideas For Families of Children with Special Needs

The Arc of Illinois

Family to Family Health Information and Education Center

708-560-6703 (voice)   866-931-1110(toll free for Illinois families)



When Insurance Won’t Pay: Options and Ideas

For Families of Children with Special Needs


It is very common for children with special needs to require services, supports, equipment, therapies, medications and other items that are not covered by any health insurance plan or government program.


Many families have found alternative strategies for covering these costs.


Here are some ideas for you to try:


  1. Find out if the provider will offer a discounted rate if you pay cash.


  1. Remember that you may be eligible for an income tax deduction for your uncovered medical and disability-related costs See our Income Tax Facts guide for more information:


  1. Find other families and share the cost of hiring a therapist for group therapy sessions. Children learn from other children, as well as from the therapist.



  1. Check with your employer, community groups and houses of worship for local grant funding options.


  1. Ask friends and relatives to help pay for needed services instead of giving your child traditional birthday and holiday gifts.



  1. Apply for all possible government programs even if you don’t think you are eligible. Many providers will offer payment on a sliding scale to families who can show a rejection letter from a government program.


  1. Use existing community resources and ask for accommodations to meet your child’s needs. This includes park district programs, child care providers, and more.  Find a recreation program near you at:


Connect to a Child Care Nurse Consultant who assists families of children with special needs and community child care providers to facilitate successful inclusion. Here is a link to the regionally-based Child Care Nurse Consultant directory:


  1. Seek out students from local colleges who may be able to get practicum credits while volunteering to learn with your child. Find colleges and universities in your area via the Illinois Board of Higher Education website:


  1. Contact local high schools (both public and private) for students seeking community service opportunities.


10. Contact service organizations in your community (scouts, houses of worship, fraternal organizations, sororities, alumni associations) for volunteers and fund raising ideas.


11. Set up a “wish list” on  and email it to your friends and family members with specific requests.

12. Accept offers of help from friends and neighbors – make up a list of things they can help with (examples: running errands, rides to appointments, help with chores, respite, babysitting, lawn care, meal preparation, pet care &c)


13. Look into Medical Savings Accounts where you can bank pre-tax dollars for uncovered medical expenses. and



14. Check with your local health department to find out if your child can receive ,for example, free or low-cost immunizations, well-child care or other services. Here is a link to finding your local health department in Illinois:


15.   In addition to seeking out financial resources specifically related to your child’s medical/disability needs, focus on resources and strategies for your overall family financial situation that may “free up” funds that can then be designated for “special needs expenses”. Visit the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Services “Getting Through Tough Economic Times” website for practical advice and resources:



Please contact us at 866-931-1110 or

If you’d like to share a funding idea that worked for you!