August 2013 archive

Organizations that Have Given Their Heart to Children with CP

Children with CP

What is CP?

CP, formally known as Cerebral Palsy, is the name given to a group of neurological defects that lead to physical disabilities in the course of a child’s growth from infancy through roughly the fifth year, when the diagnosis is fully fleshed out.

The defects are often marked by tremors and loss of sensation, a symptom that also appears in a large number of individuals suffering from early stage Parkinson’s disease. The difference is, those who develop CP do so largely within the first three years.

If undetected at birth, as in the case of athetoid or dyskinetic CP, the affects will appear much sooner, producing difficulty sitting, maintaining a sitting posture without falling over, and walking and speaking distinctly. Because this form of CP affects the tongue and vocal cords, some children may even drool.

CP Types and Symptoms

There are many other symptoms and, in fact, types of CP. Typing is based on symptomatology, and the causes are as varied as the mother developing German measles, drinking alcohol, or taking illicit drugs during the first two trimesters (or six months) of pregnancy. Other causes include (but are not limited to) serious infections like toxoplasmosis, herpes, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), poor diet, and exposure to toxic substances. CP may even be caused by multiple births, small pelvis and breech presentation (buttocks first instead of the head). Even low blood pressure and premature birth may trigger the neurological anomaly.

The disease is tragic, turning a beautiful newborn into an uncommunicative, possibly drooling victim when CP is fully diagnosed.  Nor is the mother always to blame. In fact, aside from the obvious triggers – tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and unsafe sex – CP is pretty much an equal opportunity brain defect, and even after more than a half-century of research doctors and clinicians are unsure what causes it.

Birth injury is one suspect, as when the placenta is damaged during labor (sometimes by use of a vacuum extractor or forceps, when delivery is breech). Premature delivery in the case of a difficult and premature labor when the fetus is too young to cope with the stresses of life outside the uterus is also suspected.

 Where to Turn for Help

The discovery that a newborn has CP is such a shock to the system some parents never fully recover. In fact, this tiny scrap of humanity, for whom parents have waited almost a year (and in whom resides all their best hopes and ambitions for the future), can tear apart a family faster than more mundane issues like money, infidelity and sexual orientation.

Unable  to admit the awful truth – what they see as some defect on their part(s) – these parents will struggle from day to day, trying to adapt to a care regimen that is nothing like the once described in the baby books. While friends struggle to keep their active two-year-old out of cupboards, rooms and the family dryer, parents of children with CP struggle just to see their baby sit up.

Other parents, firmly grounded and with reliable social safety nets (from workplace friends, high school and college friends, even friends from church or bible study or charitable organization work) will find help, because no one gets through this alone.

That first cry for help may go out to NICHCY, the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, an information clearinghouse that outlines disabilities and organizations designed to help desperate parents.

The second call will be to the Cerebral Palsy Organization, which offers everything from definitive advice about classifying, or staging, the severity of CP – an essential element to getting help and one which your doctor may not be comfortable making – to a website and call center to answer those pressing questions.

Other organizations include the Cleveland Children’s Clinic, in Ohio, consistently rated by U.S. News and World Report as one of the “Best Children’s Hospitals” for its staff of more than 300 pediatric medical and surgical professionals. Along the same lines, Gillette Children’s Hospital offers a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in conjunction with Region’s Hospital, the “go to” hospital in St. Paul (Minnesota).

A website devoted exclusively to teen Cerebral Palsy offers chat pages where CP teens can engage one another in conversation about their illness and gain the courage to work harder and face the world. The point? Everyone knows teens would almost rather confront Freddy (A Nightmare on Elm Street) than talk to their parents! A similar site for post-teens is Cerebral Palsy World.

Finally, for those who are financially unable to care for their CP child, offers a wealth of information on how to access various government programs (Social Security Disability Insurance, for example, or Medicaid/Medicare) to fund the more than $1.148 million it costs caregivers to raise the CP infant to adulthood.

These disabled children funding groups include state aid and county aid, but not hospital charitable programs or other charitable institution funding. Do all the legwork, even if you are exhausted, and you may come across a pleasant surprise, like a community hospital which provides indigent or very low income patients with complete financial support except for prescriptions and elective outpatient programs.

Managing Doctor and Hospital Bills after a Car Accident

medical bills

When You’re Still in Sticker Shock

If you were involved in an automobile accident, and if you have no medical insurance, you had better hope the accident happened in a no-fault state, where accident costs fall equally on both parties’ auto insurance policies. If it didn’t and you actually opened the hospital bill, you may need to go back to that same hospital to be treated for a heart attack!

Hospital bills in August of 2013, on the cusp of the Obamacare act – formally known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – are unbelievably high. It is almost a case of your entire fortune and your first-born, with coverage for critical care costing more than $3,500 per day.

Under no-fault, it’s easy to get insurance companies to pay up: in fact, they are mandated by law to do so. Unfortunately, if they don’t pay all the bills, deeming some the insurance owner’s responsibility – did you ask for and receive PTSD therapy, a home-care nurse or outside caregiver, or an at-home heart monitor? – you will be unable to sue your insurance company for full restitution.

During Sticker Shock Recovery

Sticker shock recovery may be more difficult and prolonged than actual physical healing, depending on not only the kinds of care you need in the hospital but the geographic area where you live. Costs for Florida-based treatment of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) run almost $63,000. The same treatment in a Minnesota hospital runs about $21,000.

In spite of such disparities, it can be said that, in the northern tier of states – except Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey – hospital costs are lower than the southern tier. The exceptions noted above are not only populous states, but states where workers make very good incomes; two factors which make costly insurance self-explanatory.

Along the southern tier, Florida and Texas are expensive. Another Pacific Coast state, California, is equally expensive. But there are exceptions, and in general, hospital costs across the U.S. form a crazy quilt of medical expenses for inpatient hospital care that make little sense at first glance. For those interested in delving deeper into costs, a visit to the electronic pages for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, has a wealth of information.

What You Can Expect in Fault Auto Insurance States

If your auto accident is very expensive, both in terms of property damage and bodily injury, and you live in Michigan – which mandates Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Protection (PPI), and Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD) – you will eventually end up with a fat folder of bills from hospitals, doctors, medical professionals and even some people you never heard of.

For example, if you had an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), you will get one bill from the hospital and another for the individual or group that “reads” the test. In a blessedly few cases, you may get separate bills from the technician who performed the MRI, the individual who examined the scan, and the company or division in the hospital which owns the device. Good luck sorting that out!

Michigan’s minimum coverage limits for the various aspects of auto insurance. PIP pays all “reasonable and necessary” medical bills up to three years, including lost wages. PPI pays up to $1 million, which may seem like a fortune until you add up the medical bills. The BI/PD portion of that policy indemnifies the driver or policy holder for any out-of-state property damage; the limit is $10,000. The minimum amount you are required to shell out – which varies from one insurance company to the next (welcome to free enterprise!) – will pay $20,000 per each person injured or killed, and $40,000 for each accident where several individuals are hurt or killed.

What about All Those Bills?

Your insurance adjuster will love you if you start a tabbed file for every kind of bill you receive after a fender-bender. If you don’t, and he or she has to wade through the paper tsunami you have created, you may not get the same kind of fast, generous service settling the bills as someone who has will.

If you’re not a paper-pusher and your main job is making sure the plastic bubble in the bag-making machine doesn’t collapse, let your wife help. You might even drag in your teenagers to give them first-hand experience with the way insurance works.

At the beginning, you should send a note to every provider who sends you a bill explaining that the services are the result of an auto accident, and that your insurance provider is handling the bills. Use your insurance-generated claim number and the name of your adjuster in every piece of correspondence. If your letter or bill is more than a page, carefully staple the pages or – if your adjuster says don’t – preface every document with a fax-cover page (your name, fax number, telephone number, claim number, adjuster’s name, and a line item indicating how many pages you are submitting including the fax cover page). Copy every piece of outgoing mail relating to the accident.

Make copies of the prescriptions your doctor orders, and get receipts for every single item you purchase in relation to your injury. As long as you are careful about filling in the appropriate subsections on claim forms, your adjuster will see your behavior not as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) but as the sign of an organized mind. After all, that’s what he (or she) does in the office.