Contemplating the illnesses and injuries that could befall your child is not an enjoyable exercise, but it's necessary in order to get a sense for the potential medical costs of the early years.
Children in their first six years encounter a wide range of new experiences. Unfortunately, many of these involve a heightened risk to their well-being, from catching the flu at school to coping with the emerging symptoms of a persistent condition such as asthma or ADHD. Here are 5 different medical expenses for parents to look out for.
(This guest post was contributed by ValueChampion Singapore, a consumer research and personal finance comparison firm that prides itself in distilling data into actionable, unbiased insights.)
#1 Contagious Illness
While sending your child to day care and school is a natural part of introducing him to society, it also means joining the herd as far as infectious diseases are concerned. Sicknesses like the common cold and chickenpox will eventually reach almost every child. While these are usually neither serious nor expensive in terms of treatment, they can force parents to stay home from work to provide care.
If you haven't already stocked up on some basic pain relief medication such as Tylenol for kids, it would be a good idea to do so if your child is regularly spending time with groups of other kids.
However, one of the most common pieces of advice from paediatricians diagnosing common infections is to just wait it out, which costs nothing.
#2 Asthma and Respiratory Issues
The rising frequency of asthma cases has long been a concern in developed nations, and the urban density of Singapore makes for no exception. While the difficulty in breathing that asthma causes is usually manageable through the use of inhalers, the cost of such medication is significant.
Combined with the occasional need for parents to stay home and provide care for asthmatic children, the condition can have a noticeable impact on a family's finances.
The table shows the costs of both asthma medication and the work absenteeism that it causes, according to a recent study of Singaporean households with children who have asthma. The large difference in cost among the three groups is due to varying levels of symptom control - when symptoms interfere with sleeping or normal activity more than a few times per week, costs can rise quickly.
#3 Dental Checkups
You should take your child to the dentist for the first time around their first birthday, and every six months thereafter. When provided through public institutions, these visits can cost as little as S$9 and ensure that potentially costly complications are detected early and handled before they grow in scope.
If you choose a private option, paediatric dentists can cost significantly more in exchange for care that may be more tailored to your child's individual needs. In that case, you can expect each visit to cost around S$100.
To avoid the expense of additional procedures, make sure to brush your child's teeth regularly and to wean them from nighttime bottle feedings as soon as they're old enough.
#4 Unexpected Hospitalization
No matter how careful parents are, there's always a non-zero chance of children encountering physical accidents or sudden acute illnesses that require professional care.
In the unfortunate situation of a hospital stay for your toddler to recover, the cost of accommodation can be considerable.
As you may expect, it's much more expensive to obtain a private space in the hospital than it is to share space with other patients. Depending on how severe your child's condition is, it may be preferable to make the trade-off between less privacy and a more manageable hospital bill.
Keep in mind that the costs of actual treatment and medication will add to these numbers.
#5 Mental Wellness
ADHD is another growing phenomenon as in children's health. While popular theories and skepticism around the condition abound, professional diagnosis and treatment are the only way to be sure whether your child truly needs specialized mental care.
If your child seems to have trouble remaining still or focusing on tasks to the degree that other children seem to be capable of, it may be worth obtaining a professional medical opinion.
If doctors confirm that your child should be given medication or therapy to manage a mental condition like ADHD, you'll likely want to start by reading over the terms of your health insurance coverage.
Such treatments aren't very common, and if your current plan doesn't cover them it may be a good long-term play to switch providers early on before your costs mount.
As a point of reference, consider that recent research in the United States estimated that it cost parents five times more than usual to raise children with ADHD.