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Dyslexia Testing: How Much Does It Cost?

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There is no single diagnostic dyslexia test. In order to obtain a dyslexia diagnosis, it is necessary to get a full educational or neuropsychological assessment. These assessments are complex, involving a large number of interrelated tests and tasks administered by a professional.

The cost varies from provider to provider, and from state to state. Providers of this service often require supplementary tests to rule out physiological difficulties such as poor eyesight or hearing. Depending on where you live, the entire process can cost between $500 and $2000.

Most insurers do not classify dyslexia as a medical condition, which means that parents need to shoulder the cost. However, there are some important factors to consider:

  • Free screening and testing from school districts
  • The role of insurers
  • Alternative options for funding

Can my school district conduct dyslexia tests?

In the United States, public school districts have a mandate to screen for dyslexia and address the needs of dyslexic children. This is defined by federal law, by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The relevant part of the statute defines the term “specific learning disability” and includes dyslexia explicitly among them. It reads as follows:

(26) SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘specific learning disability’ means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.

(B) DISORDERS INCLUDED- Such term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

(C) DISORDERS NOT INCLUDED- Such term does not include a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.¹⁵

For a variety of reasons, not all school districts offer screening services. If you suspect that your child might require dyslexia testing, your first step should be to check with the school district and find out whether it offers screening, testing or treatment services. Then, you should request an evaluation. This is straightforward if your child attends a public school. You can simply communicate your request to the principal and any other relevant stakeholders in the school district, such as a head of special education. However, you can do this even if your child is not in the public school system:

  • If your child is in a private or home-school, contact the public school district for which you are zoned and find out who can handle your request for dyslexia testing
  • If your child attends a charter school, contact the charter school principal as well as your state’s Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) representative

Do insurers cover the cost of dyslexia tests?

Currently, dyslexia is not considered a medical condition, unlike other conditions such as ADHD and autism. Therefore, specific testing for dyslexia is not covered by most insurers. Neither are the costs of treatment for dyslexia. However, many insurers do offer coverage for neuropsychological assessments, which is the type of assessment you will want to get in order to obtain an authoritative diagnosis. The difficulty here is that neuropsychological assessments comprise educational and neuropsychological tests, and insurers that cover the latter, are often reluctant to cover the former. Your insurer might be unwilling to authorize an assessment for any conditions that it deems non-medical.

If a medical professional deems it medically necessary for your child to undergo the entire battery of tests in a neuropsychological assessment, this may help you to obtain authorization or reimbursement from your insurer. You should also check with your insurer to find out if your insurer reimburses for the codes covering psychological and neuropsychological testing and assessment.¹⁶ These codes are:

  • 96116
  • 96121
  • 96130
  • 96131
  • 96132
  • 96133
  • 96136
  • 96137
  • 96138
  • 96139

Can I use an FSA or HSA to cover dyslexia testing?

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a savings account that your employer administers. The account can reimburse costs associated with medical treatments. Dyslexia testing can be covered by an FSA, with a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN). This is a letter issued by a suitably authorized medical professional. Your FSA can also cover subsequent costs of treatment such as speech therapy and occupational therapy, if the assessment recommends these as fruitful avenues of treatment.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) are savings accounts that you or your employer can fund. Like the FSA, this account can reimburse medical costs that are suitably qualified and authorized. 

Endnotes

  1. The genetic basis of dyslexia, The Lancet, 2002
  2. Understanding dyslexia in children through human development theories, 2012
  3. A brief history of dyslexia, University of Oxford
  4. Specific developmental dyslexia, Canadian Dyslexia Association
  5. Participation in after-school activities decreases ADHD severity Contemporary Pediatrics, 2021
  6. The neurological basis of developmental dyslexia and related disorders: A reappraisal of the temporal hypothesis, twenty years on, Brain Sciences, 2021
  7. Dyslexia and specific learning disorders: New international diagnostic criteria, Journal of Childhood & Developmental Disorders, 2017
  8. Understanding dyslexia in the dontext of developmental language disorders, Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 2018
  9. Motor impairment in dyslexia: The Influence of attention disorders, Elsevier, 2006
  10. High reading skills mask dyslexia in gifted children, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 49(2), 2016
  11. The civil rights of students with hidden disabilities under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973, U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 1995
  12. Interpreting the relationships among prosody, automaticity, accuracy, and silent reading comprehension in secondary students, Journal of Literacy Research, 2014
  13. The contributions of oral and silent reading fluency to reading comprehension, Reading Psychology 2015
  14. Rapid serial naming and reading ability: The role of lexical access, Logan, Schatschneider & Wagner, 2011
  15. Individuals with disabilities education act, 1990
  16. 2019 Psychological and neuropsychological testing CPT codes, American Psychological Association