Autism Speaks Lobbies for Autism Therapy Coverage

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While reading the morning news today, I read this article on a lobbying effort on the part of the group Autism Speaks to get autism behavioral therapy covered by health insurance.  Regardless of the cause of autism, it has been found that early therapy has helped those children become more mainstream in their behavior.  As such, it has become a mantra of the Autism Therapy organization. Quite frankly, I think it's great!  Let me share my own experience with you:  We took our son in to be tested for his speech development.  He didn't have any at 3 years, and by now I could dispel the arguments from family members that he was just a "late bloomer".  The speech therapist thought that our son might have autism, and suggested we get him tested.  We took him to the State department of health to be evaluated by a childhood psychologist that specializes in the Autism Spectrum.  He diagnosed my son with autism, with the possibility of Asperger's.  He wanted to make another appointment to evaluate my son in January in order to firm up the diagnosis.  We were shocked, but were by this time prepared for the diagnosis and asked about what we can do.  He had already started pre-school in an Autism program, and they were going a fabulous job.  Then we got the bill.  We were billed $350.00 for the evaluation, which I didn't really understand.  I called up to see if this was perhaps one of those informational bills sent before the insurance was billed.  I was wrong.  They said that our insurance does not cover autism as a diagnosis.  I was shocked, because I have never had a diagnosis that was not covered by any insurance I carried.  Now, my insurance is really great for just about everything else, because I have the University of Utah health insurance.  All co-pays are comparable to other insurance companies if not better, and drug costs are low.  But autism and autism therapy is not supported.  Now, I understand it could mean an increase in insurance premiums, right when we are talking about healthcare and the burden it already poses many American families.  But look at the costs of autism therapy.  For autism therapy beyond the age of 4 in Utah, it will cost $28,000 a year.  This is the cost to attend the autism school by the University of Utah for my son after a year long waiting list gets around to him.  Now, I'm being a little selfish here, and I admit it.  My son's welfare is a bit more important to me than the welfare of people I don't know in another country.  But look at it this way, 6% of all boys born will be diagnosed (either rightfully or wrongfully) with autism.  That is a significant number of children (not counting the girls) that will need some sort of support from somewhere.  Autism isn't limited by financial ability.  Assistance of some sort will be needed at some level, whether from health insurance or from another source. Whether or not you agree with this approach, it at least ups the profile of the needs of children with autism in this nation.  As the article points out, it will be made a priority of the next administration, regardless of which administration that will be.  It will be interesting to see what the next administration sees as a proper response.