West Coast States Begin 2011 with Insurance Legislation


Every parent of a child with autism knows the financial and emotional burdens of the disorder, the long waiting lists for services, the exorbitant costs of services, all the while the clock ticks on vital early intervention.  Historically, lack of insurance coverage for autism has left many in dire straits.

Fortunately, progress is being made on the insurance front.  In news from Oregon, an article from ¨The Huffington Post" states:

This January, Oregon entered the fray as the first state of 2011 to introduce autism insurance reform legislation with both a House and Senate version of the bill.

The article posts a link to AutismVotes.org which presents a map of the country detailing the status of legislation in each state — a fascinating overview of the national movement to get all 50 states on board.  It’s encouraging to discover that more progress has been made than one might imagine.  Twenty-three states at this time have enacted autism health care reform with only Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming having done nothing whatsoever.

On January 21st of this year, California was the next west coast state to introduce legislation to make sure autism treatment is covered by insurance.  This bill takes on the insurance companies as well, mandating that loopholes be closed so that insurers cannot impose arduous waiting periods for payments.  It also prohibits them from shifting costs to public agencies, avoiding taxpayer burden and concomitant wrath.

But even when states have enacted autism reform laws, it doesn’t mean the problems are over.  AutismVotes.org is also confronting inequities in states where insurance plans aren’t required to cover autism services if they are ¨self-funded."  Assuring there is across-the-board parity is another ambition of the group.

Check out what’s happening in your state and see how far we’ve come and how far there is still to go.

Oregon and California have set good examples for the beginning of 2011. The questions remains of how many more states will follow?

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
  • * 1.7 million Americans have some form of autism
  • * 4 out of 5 autistic children are boys

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