Funding Assistive Technology: Where to Start
Provided by: Muscular Dystrophy Association and written by Alyssa Quintero
Medicare and some private insurance policies generally cover the costs of AAC devices. But Medicare or private insurance isn’t going to pay for more than one device. Nor will Medicare reimburse for the purchase of integrated AAC devices that feature computer-access capabilities or functions like e-mail, Internet or word processing.
Medicare allows you to rent some equipment, while other equipment must be purchased. For speech-generating devices, Medicare pays 80 percent, and you’re responsible for the remaining 20 percent.
States may offer Medicaid waivers to help fund AT; however, Medicaid generally requires recipients to first use other funding sources to obtain needed services. Criteria and eligibility requirements vary from state to state.
Help Where You Live
Your state’s federally funded Assistive Technology Act Program is another possible source. These programs, which operate in all states, work to improve access to AT products and services.
“Your first call should be to your state AT program because they can serve as that first line of contact for people looking for AT information,” said Nell Bailey, project director for RESNA’s (Rehabilitation, Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America) Technical Assistance Project, which operates the state AT programs.
These programs are the experts at putting people in touch with AT resources and providing information about local funding sources. They also offer demonstration, loan, recycling/reuse and equipment exchange programs.
“The state AT projects have the greatest, broadest knowledge of AT products, devices and services,” said John Moore, assistant director of the Texas Technology Access Program. “They know where all the funding sources are in the state and the suppliers of assistive technology.”
Some state programs even donate new or used equipment to clients who can’t afford to purchase their own, especially low-income people with disabilities.
The recycling/reutilization programs sanitize and refurbish donated equipment that’s then donated or sold at an affordable price to clients. Exchange programs help match those who need used equipment with people who have equipment to donate or sell. Some states’ AT programs partner with ATMatch.com, a national marketplace that matches AT donors and sellers with buyers.
Sheila Simmons, project coordinator for the Assistive Technology for Kansans Program, explained, “We are here to help people understand AT, so we provide basic access. Individuals should be able to touch equipment and learn more about it.”
Often, state AT programs help people identify funding sources for which they qualify but weren’t aware of. Staff will evaluate whether a person qualifies for assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation services, state grant programs, including Medicaid waivers, or private organizations.
Connect with other parents about Assistive Technology.
Visit the My Child Without Limits support community and talk to parents, caregivers, and professionals about their experiences.
Looking for more information on Assistive Technology and Individualized Service Plans?
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
Alliance for Technology Access
National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
DisabilityInfo.gov (AT resources)
Bank of America Access loans
Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Digital Federal Credit Union
Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP)