More States Debate Insurance Mandates to Cover Autism Treatments – Update

healthRaising a child with autism is expensive, and many families in the United States are still struggling to get by without any help from insurance companies. Several states are considering legislation that would require insurance to cover some therapies and treatments for children with autism.

Here are the latest updates

Kansas

A bill that would require state-regulated, large-group plans to cover about 10 hours per week of Applied Behavior Analysis is being debated in the House Insurance Committee. The mandate would be expanded on January 1, 2016, to include the state-regulated, small-group, and individual-market plans in place prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

Parents criticize the bill for limiting access to physician-prescribed treatments, imposing unnecessary licensing requirements, and relying on an outdated definition of conditions that fall under autism spectrum disorder. They also argue that ten hours of ABA per week is not enough to be effective. Insurance companies oppose the bill because they claim it will require them to raise premiums. Legislators view the current bill as a compromise.

Utah

Both Utah Houses passed a bill that would require health insurers to pay for autism treatments. It will now go to back to the Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Gary Herbert for a signature.

House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, the House sponsor of the bill, says,

“I think it will be helpful not only to the insurance industry of Utah, but also children and families that bear the burden and sometimes the blessings of autism.”

Georgia

A bill that would require insurance companies to cover treatment for children with autism under the age of 6 continues to be hotly debated in Georgia. Opponents of the bill argue that the mandate will raise insurance premiums. Supporters of the bill argue that covering early intervention will save money in the long run. State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, noted that the average public school student costs the state $6,556. This cost is tripled for every student with autism.

“Does this increase the cost of doing business? Marginally, it does. And I’m going to own that. But I’ll defend it by saying that the benefit on the back end is well worth it,” says McKoon.

Mississippi

Mississippi lawmakers approved a version of House Bill 542 that would have required the State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan to cover autism treatments. The bill is now reduced to a study, and will go to the State and School Employee’s Health Insurance Management Board for review. The board will file a report with the Legislature on or before Dec. 1 to recommend whether autism coverage should be expanded.

Rep. Steve Massengill, R-Hickory Flat, the author of the bill, said,

“It’s a worthless version. I’m very disappointed, but we’ll try again next year.”

Autism Daily Newscast will continue to offer readers up-to-date coverage of state legislatures attempting to mandate autism coverage.