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Kathy Marshack News

More than 35 States Have Enacted Autism Insurance Reform Laws – Has Yours?

Monday, February 24, 2014


enacted autism insurance reform lawsThis month, Mississippi joins the line up of progressive states that are recognizing the need for enacting autism insurance reform laws as reported on by Emily LeCoz of the ClarionLedger. Their House of Representatives passed it 120-0. As a mental health care provider in Oregon and Washington it’s of interest that Oregon became the 34th state to enact insurance mandated laws. However, Washington at the time of this writing has not yet done so.

The cost of treatment for Autism is a huge financial burden for families. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates conservatively that the dollar cost of an autism diagnosis is more than $17,000 a year through age 17. Medical costs make up less than 20% of that amount.

Are the benefits of these laws being rolled over into the Obama Affordable Care Act?

The rules passed by individual states do not automatically extend to new health insurance Marketplaces. Each state must specifically require it. The Affordable Care Act says that all insurance plans within state Marketplaces must cover 10 essential benefits, including “behavioral health treatment” and “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” However, the Department of Health and Human Services declined to specify treatment of autism as an essential health benefit and is leaving it up to each state to decide.

Many insurance companies in the past have refused to cover behavioral therapy because they consider it experimental or educational. This short-term thinking is failing to take into consideration the fact that early behavioral intervention is essential in a child’s life to make the greatest difference in the health and quality of life as an adult. Rather than treating symptoms, it teaches skills that help children with autism to cope and flourish.

According to a report by The PEW Charitable Trusts, “…Only 24 States and D.C. have applied the same requirements to policies that will be sold on their insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.”

To learn more about your state, check out Autism Speaks State Initiatives. They provide a clickable map plus a list of states so you can see where your state stands on this issue at present. They also list whom you can contact if you wish to show your support.

I’m passionate about providing education that will lead to the betterment of lives. Recently I’ve made myself available for providing Remote Education so many more people can be reached with this important information. Please, check out my Remote Education on Asperger Relationships to learn more about this service.



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