It’s no secret that speech therapy can be expensive. It involves treatment by a clinical specialist who is licensed and certified in a specific area of development. When you consider other factors such as the disorder being treated, the frequency of sessions, and the location of therapy, the cost can add up.
Managing the cost of speech therapy can feel stressful. But if you’re looking to begin therapy, for either a child or an adult, you should know that options are available. You can pay for speech therapy yourself, or your health insurance might cover some of the costs. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Young children may be able to receive free or low-cost therapy through your state’s early intervention program, as well.
Let's walk through all the options to help you make an informed decision.
Average cost of speech therapy
How much does speech therapy cost without insurance? On average, speech therapy costs around $100 to $250 per session for children and adults. That’s the full price, without insurance covering any part of it. Every speech therapy company or provider will likely have some variation in their prices, but this is a good ballpark.
Factors that affect the cost of speech therapy
Several factors can affect your final cost per speech therapy session. Let’s look at a few of them:
Where you live. Just like any service, speech therapy prices can differ from state to state and city to city, since the cost of living varies depending on where you live.
Location where services are delivered. There are several types of settings where speech therapy sessions can take place:
At home, with the speech therapist visiting you
In a clinic
If you receive speech therapy at home, the price may be higher since it includes travel fees for the speech therapist. On the flip side, with online speech therapy, the cost may be more affordable, since the company doesn’t have to cover therapists’ travel costs–or even rent and overhead for a building.
Speech therapy through public school is a free service offered to some children. More details on this option are below.
If you use insurance. Insurance can lower the cost for ongoing speech therapy sessions. If you have health insurance and it covers the type of setting and speech therapy provider you need, this is a great option! However, there are some things to keep in mind around using insurance. Keep reading to learn more.
Insurance vs. private pay for speech therapy
When it comes to paying for speech therapy, some people may not have much of a choice between using their insurance or paying out of pocket. Speech therapy can be expensive, and if insurance is available, it certainly helps reduce those costs.
However, some people can consider the two options. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of insurance and private pay.
Paying for speech therapy with insurance: The pros
The greatest benefit to using health insurance is that it saves you money. However, every health plan will vary in terms of how much of the cost is covered, how long speech therapy is covered, and which providers are in-network with the insurance company.
Even so, for many people, the amount of money saved is worth it. If you are attending speech therapy once or twice a week, the cost can add up.
Paying for speech therapy with insurance: The cons
There are a few frustrations that come along with using insurance. One is that your health insurance plan may deny services. If the insurance company does not agree that the person has a medical necessity for speech therapy, they may deny coverage.
Your health plan may also decide how long you can receive speech therapy. For example, they might cover only three months of therapy sessions, when a speech therapist recommends six months to a year. Your speech therapist can always try explaining the situation to the insurance company, and your plan may then increase the amount of time covered. But this can be a complicated process for everyone involved–especially you!
Certain speech therapy providers and clinics are “in-network” with different insurance companies. This means the insurance company covers treatment with those specific providers. If your insurance covers speech therapy, you likely have some qualified providers to choose from. But if you’ve researched a certain speech therapy provider and would like to work with them, it can be frustrating to find out that they’re not covered by your insurance.
Private pay for speech therapy: The pros
One of the biggest pros to private pay for speech therapy–which means paying for the entire cost yourself–is the freedom that comes with it. As mentioned above, insurance companies must decide that treatment is medically necessary in order to reimburse you for the cost. There are many areas of speech therapy that may not qualify under the definition of “medical necessity.” Perhaps a child needs to work on phonological skills that are related to academic success. Or maybe an adult wants to improve their professional speaking skills to help advance their career.
If you don’t use insurance to cover speech therapy, your treatment is between you and your speech therapist. You don’t have to wait for insurance to approve therapy, try to make sense of bills, or fight denials of coverage.
Private pay for speech therapy: The cons
The biggest downside to private pay is the cost. Again, the cost of private speech therapy is around $100 to $250 per session. When you pay entirely out of pocket, there isn’t a third party helping you pay the bills.
People who choose private pay can look into using their HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account) to help cover costs, if they have one available. This can help offset some of the expense.
Other affordable speech therapy options for children
Parents and caregivers of children who need speech therapy may want to look into state-funded resources. Here’s what’s available for different ages.
Birth to age 2: Early intervention is an option for children from birth to age 2 years, 11 months. This publicly funded program provides services for free or at reduced cost for any child who is eligible, in every state and territory. Early intervention typically involves a speech therapist coming to your house for speech therapy. Keep in mind that it may not allow for as frequent of visits as a family would like. You also may not get to choose your speech therapist, or see the same one consistently. But the low or no-cost aspect makes this a favorable choice for many families. You can learn more about early intervention and look up programs near you here.
Age 3 years and older: For preschool-age children, you may be able to receive speech therapy services through your public school for free. Call the elementary school you are zoned for to ask staff about these services and who to contact to learn more.
School-age children: Once children are school age, they are able to receive speech therapy at their public school if they meet the qualifications. Talk with school administrators and teachers at the beginning of the school year if you would like your child tested for speech therapy.
Many parents and caregivers want their child to receive supplemental speech therapy in addition to early intervention or school-based programs. State-funded, school-based speech therapists see many patients and have large caseloads. It can be challenging for them to give each child the necessary therapy time and personalized attention. But of course, some speech therapy is certainly better than none. Caregivers are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities!
Other options for affordable speech therapy
There are additional low-cost alternatives to public and private therapy. One example is local colleges that have speech and hearing departments or offer speech therapy programs. You can receive a diagnosis and treatment from a student studying speech-language pathology, all under the supervision of a licensed therapist. While this can be a much more affordable option, one potential downside is that your child may work with a roster of rotating students as they trade shifts and graduate.
Whether you’re looking into services for an adult or a child, the financial aspects of speech therapy can take some planning ahead. It’s important to remember how worthwhile speech therapy is. All of us deserve the ability to communicate clearly and confidently.
There’s never a better time to start speech therapy than right now. Think of all the progress you or your loved one could begin making. The time and energy you put into determining your best option will serve you well.