Developmental Delay: Diagnosis and Insurance Coverage

Is your child not reaching delayed milestones? Work with your doctor to determine what the development delay is caused by and what you can do about it. Learn about health insurance for developmental delays.

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Developmental Delay: Diagnosis and Insurance Coverage

The term development delay can refer to a wide range of disabilities that a child can have that limits their ability to learn, speak, or can influence their behavior or physical attributes. If your child receives a development delay diagnosis, it is important to work with your child’s doctor to find the best possible care and support for the child. Your health insurance policy may help you to do that. When it comes to information, use the information here as a guide to choosing health insurance and not as medical information.

What Causes Developmental Delay?

The cause of a developmental delay can be numerous things. In many situations, it can be due to injury, infection, or genetics. In some situations, a complex mix of factors can play a role in the process. There is some evidence that a child is more likely to have developmental delays if the mother drinks or smokes. In addition, some speech and physical delays may be due to environmental toxins the child is exposed to, such as lead. Physical developmental delays may be due to injuries at the time of birth.

Developmental Delay Risk Groups

A child is more likely to have developmental delays if he or she has a genetic predisposition for it. They may also have intellectual development delays due to conditions such as Down syndrome, fragile x syndrome, and infections. Some may also be at a higher risk if they have fetal alcohol syndrome risks. In some situations, a child that is born with low birth weight or those who have a sibling with autism may also be at risk. Some evidence also exists that suggests children that have untreated jaundice will also have complications.

Symptoms of Developmental Delay

The symptoms of developmental delay can be numerous or very hard to spot. Generally, they will be evident when your doctor points them out as your child goes to his or her wellness checkups. Children may not learn to speak well, or some children may exhibit behavioral delays that become evident. Other times, the child is born with the developmental delay, and it is evident prior to birth.

Prevention of Developmental Delay

It is not always possible to avoid development delays in a child. They can occur for reasons that are also unknown. A pregnant mother can work to maintain a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy and avoid exposure to chemicals. In some cases, the best solution is not to try to prevent developmental delays but rather to screen for them to ensure proper care is available as soon as possible according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health Insurance Coverage for Developmental Delay

When you learn your child has a developmental delay, you may be concerned about what that means for their future. It may also worry you as you consider how health insurance will cover the costs related to it. The good news is that your health insurance policy should provide most types of support for your child with developmental delays. However, all health insurance policies are different, and it is important for you to choose the right coverage level for your child’s unique needs.


Because developmental delays can range widely, it is important for you to choose health insurance that fits your child’s specific needs. This may include more advanced medical care and therapy programs. Some children need physical therapy and occupational therapy. Other children may be healthy but may need access to special programs for socialization and development. Still, others need speech therapy and consultations with specialists to correct physical problems.


When choosing a health insurance policy with a child with a developmental delay, it is important to consider deductibles, co-insurance, and limits. Choose the policy that covers your child’s doctors as well as medical facilities in your area that can treat or support your child’s needs specifically as they need it.


When you face a development delay in a child, realize there are tools and resources to help you and your child. Your health insurance policy can help support these needs, even helping with medical equipment he or she needs. However, you need to select the best coverage for your goals.


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