A new bill has been passed by the state House along with the Senate in Mississippi that requires insurance companies to cover the treatment for Autism.
The bill that had been passed earlier by the House saw some disagreements in the Senate. Many argued that making a law mandatory for private insurance companies was equivalent to the state dictating what to cover, i.e an interference with their freedom.
Fortunately, the bill passed with a majority of 39-6.
Autism in the US is now a public health concern. Each year more and more cases of Autism and other neurobehavioral disorders are surfacing nationwide. Even though there are a number of nonprofit Autism organizations that are involved in supporting the families and individuals struggling with these disorders much more need to be done.
Needless to say all these aids require money and most families cannot afford all the necessities required to help a person with Autism.
On 2007, May 25, South Carolina passed the Ryan’s law, a benchmark decision that required insurance companies to provide a maximum amount of $50,000 on behavioral therapy for a child up to the age of 16. Adding to this, the insurance companies could not refuse any other form of treatment for their client based on Autism bias.
In case of Mississippi, the treatment cost can be provided to individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism on or before the age of 8.
Following this law a number of states such as Utah, Texas , New York and 35 others, along with Virgin Islands and District of Columbia have implemented laws to make medical insurance available to families dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Since then, the laws have gone through multiple reforms and revisions. States like Ohio, Hawaii, Georgia, South Dakota are actively pursuing insurance reforms. Now Mississippi joins the bandwagon as well.
While most private insurance companies, along with employee benefit plans, include treatment coverage for Autism, there are quite a few that refuse to fund for ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapies – a standard and most useful form of autism treatment.
A major reason why Mississippi fails to provide the best services to families with Autism is because it had not made Autism screening, diagnosis and ABA a compliance factor for insurance companies. Therefore, for most families, the out of pocket expenses were too much to bear.
With this bill, covering Autism treatment becomes mandatory for the insurance companies starting with children aged 2-8, allowing early intervention and treatment. The ABA therapy, when applied at an early age could benefit an autistic child immensely, helping the person to adapt to society while they grow up. A law like this could help multiple families who are struggling everyday to provide the best care they can for their children.
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