The Cost of Sick Kids

January 28, 2010

Our family has spent most of the last two weeks with some form of head cold or stomach bug.  It all seems to start at daycare when our son gets sneezed on by another kid or our baby girl chews on a toy after a sick baby.

One of them brings home the germs and before you know it we have two sick kids.  We’ve been through winters with a sick kid before but in the past it was just our son.  Now that we have two kids, the sickness usually hits both of them.  This of course means the germs stick around our house even longer, making it more likely that my wife or I get sick as well.

The Costs of Sick Kids

Sick Day / Vacation Day

My wife doesn’t work every day of the week but it seems like every time our kids get sick its on some of the days that she works.  Of course this means that I usually have to use a sick day or vacation day so I can stay home since they can’t go to daycare with a cold, fever, or upset stomach.

What this means is that if you have or will be having little kids, you want to save up your vacation and sick days because it’s easy to burn through them during flu season.

Lost Daycare Money

Not every daycare works the same but many will charge you for a certain number of days a week even if your kid is sick some of those days and doesn’t come in.  I understand the reason our baby sitter does this, she depends on the income to pay her bills so she writes this rule into her contract to make sure she know how much money she’ll make each year. 

If you’re paid hourly, like my wife, when you stay home with sick kids you’re not only missing out on income but you’re also paying daycare costs that you’re not covering with earnings.  Typically the cost of daycare is offset by the money we earn at work

Doctors Bills

I’ve probably been in the doctors office with my kids more in the last year than I was the previous 20 years of my life.  Of course they weren’t sick all of those times but the bottom line is that little kids = many doctors visits.

Each time we go to the doctor there’s a co-pay and until we’ve met our deductible for each kid there’s also coinsurance to pay as well.

Medicine Costs

Our latest prescription from the doctor only cost around $10 for some amoxicillin for our son’s double ear infection but sometimes it can be much more expensive.  I don’t what the medicine is called but when my kids catch a certain kind of contagious eye infection the tiny little bottle of drops runs $50 a pop.

The doctors visits and medicine costs makes me glad we fund our flexible spending account so at least all the money we spend is pre-tax.

Sick Parents

As I mentioned above, it seems that if one kid gets sick then the other one will as well.  This means the germs are hanging out in your house even longer which makes it more likely that one or both of the parents will get sick as well.  Of course this means more sick days, more medicine, and maybe even more doctors visits.

So what can we do?  We did get flu shots for both kids. We try and keep their fingers out of their mouths and keep their hands washed when we’re around them. However, there’s not much we can do to prevent them catching something at daycare.  There’s no doubt about it, kids are expensive!  Maybe we can get the government to consider increasing the child tax credit 🙂


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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6 Responses to The Cost of Sick Kids

  • vickie

    I can’t believe the vast level of what one set of parents think is a cost of ill kids! I have three kids with a genetic bone marrow disease. My oldest was premature and all of my concerns were pushed off as new mom jitters. My second child I had severe hyperemisis and then at five months along, she had cycts where the right kidney should be. The rest of the pregnancy was spent wondering if she would live or die. She lived though she may need a transplant at any time or it can become too large. Recently, after checking her every six months to a year, they somehow missed her Uterus in which they can’t be sure if it is the kidney too large or another missed organ! Our daughter was misdiagnosed by a reputable hospital and we were told nothing was wrong with our son. We had our third child who sadly confirmed our worse fears, he too had neutropenia which meant this was no longer a mild illness she would outgrow but a deadly disease for all three of our kids and death could occur at any given time by overwhelming infection, AML, Aplastic Anemia. My oldest is dying from an overwhelming infection as they suck money from us that our insurance company denies and neither the best hospitals in the US can help but will leave you without anything. We lost our middle class life, sold our home when yet another doctor just intended to us our daughter and sons for a chemotherapy and transplant new. We moved away from life on a lake, friends, family, church and a buisness we will never have again. No home or buisness as our credit has been ruined. All of it worth doing to find any help which we did find a small amount but the insurance games to the fact we are unable to secure a job since so many prospective emloyeers can find out such information. Doing a article on our family wasn’t the smartest either. While my husband and I only need a travel trailer where we all lived when we came to the new city for her care abd until the home of our dreams sold. It is our kids future we can’t tolerate to think about. God has manamged to do good by us, though we worry all the time about money. We are faced with questions that older children in their teens ask, what purpose does it make if I spend money which we don’t have, so if they get Pell Grants and borrow money just to have a degree that eventually will try to do the same that has ben done to us, to get you on Medicaid or Medicare which limits how much money they make or what they can own! We qualify for it all but fight so hard as we both are in the medical field and know Meicaid patients do not get the same level of care or in our case with high risk patients, they would never make it to a transplant. The lesser of the two evils is still private insurance though for us, Blue Sheild of California has increased our Cobra from 1600 to 1800 and we have been told another increase in March all while our benefits are being cut. It amazes me those who say they stand for life, need to be clear that they only stand up for the unborn babies, after they are born, let them die because that is exactly what happens. Ask any Bone Marrow Doctor what a transplant costs and they will tell you over 1 million plus and yet in Arizonia, the Republican Govenor and those who scream death panel will stand before God oneday. She is killing all those Medicaid transplants which we are suppose to believe is 14K per 100 patients. No way, they will do a few chosen patients and tell the families nothing more can be done on all the others. Lies, and killing are done daily by doctors all over the US. It is sick and it is getting worse. I can only say this, I fear our kids future. I fear the pain they will endure without medications or money to pay for them. I am not well from the years of taking care of three sick kids and trying to hold it together, their is a silver lining somewhere but my older kids do not believe it anymore. Honestly, in a developed country such as this. We should be in our home, my husband able to work a good job and our kids getting the best care without fear of out of pocket or rejected insurance prices along with a fair amount of insurance that is fair. Instead, groups and groups of doctors still today can make the wrong diagnosis and unless we can prove harm or death, we can’t do anything to them. With such a rare disease still not proven, they can get out of everything they got so wrong. There is not justice. Our children honestly pray for God to take them home. How sad is that?

  • Ted

    Sick kids put us into debt! My daughter was really sick from 9months to 15 months and we spent a fe grand getting her better (lets say we have better insurance now) I think this month alone, we are getting close to $200 bucks spent on copay and meds. Craziness. As soon as one kid gets sick we run to the doctor in hopes that it does not spread to the whole fam. This year we have had swine flu, 3 ear/nose infections each (2 kids plus my wife). winter gets tough because we are inside so much more- plus my daughter started presschool this year as well. Good thing we have a great doctor that sometimes diagnoses us over the phone to save a few bucks and his time.


  • Kevin@OutOfYourRut

    I could have written this post about 10 years ago! It’s so right on the money!

    It all played out for us just the way you describe, right down to the domino-like spread of the illness. If your kids got it, you’ll get it.

    For what it’s worth, it’s just a phase they go through, and one day, before you know it, it’ll pass. They’ll move onto a new phase where you’ll be equally mystified 😉

    (Just messing with you, it does get easier as they get older, if only because they start taking care of themselves)

  • Sandy L

    I think we should be able to write off 100% of daycare costs as a business expense. Talk about double dipping. You’re taxing me for earning the money, then I give it to daycare and she gets taxed again on it as income.


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