Bills Would Require Insurance Companies To Cover Autism-Related Expenses
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Legislation to require that insurance companies cover autism-related expenses is gaining momentum at the Ohio Statehouse.
Committees in both the Ohio House and Senate held hearings Wednesday, and autism advocates made a strong push for the bills, saying the coverage is long overdue.
There are two identical bills being considered, and supporters said Ohio is now in the minority of states that don’t already require coverage.
More than 30 other states now have laws requiring insurance plans to include coverage for autism-related diagnosis and therapy.
One in 88 children are affected by autism, and advocates say that early diagnosis and treatment is critical.
Families impacted by autism said that just because the diagnosis is autism, that shouldn’t mean that your insurance company won’t cover treatment.
Opponents of the legislation, primarily small business interests, said the added requirement will add costs to healthcare premiums.
But advocates said any increase will be minimal.
“When you take these costs, which are astronomical, if they have to be borne by the family, when you spread them across the entire insurance pool, it really gets worked out to be quite minimal. The figure we came up with after a survey of a handful of states, it’s about 31 cents per member per month to provide coverage for all those families,“ said Lorri Unumb, vice president, state government affairs at Autism Speaks. “I think it’s important that these are not families looking for a handout from the government or anyone else. All they’re asking is that the health insurance that they pay their premiums for every month, that when they need it, it’s there for their children.“
Tanya Carman, of Sunbury, said it was gut wrenching when doctors told her in September that her 2-year-old daughter Rachelle has autism. Then, they told Carman that her insurance wouldn’t cover the costs of the intensive daily therapy that Rachelle needs.
“I think that was almost worse than her diagnosis because I have a good support system, and I can handle her condition. But if I don’t have the appropriate resources and trained professionals to help me, I think that was worse,“ Carman said.
Doug Krisky’s insurance did cover therapy for his son Michael, who is now 14 years old. Krisky said the difference is immense.
“He is now engaged with his friends. He has friends, he can socialize and academically, he can learn better than when he was younger because he got the ABA therapy,“ Krisky said.
There is bipartisan support for the autism insurance requirement, and Krisky said he’s convinced the legislation will pass.