Refining the Message: Autism and Insurance Reform

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about  the backlash against mandated funding of autism treatment by schools and insurance companies.  This morning I read that West Virginia is now dealing with a debate over the insurance funding.

It is already abundantly clear that there are many taxpayers and policyholders who don’t want their insurance premiums or local taxes to pay for autism services, and as I’ve said, I don’t much care to get into arguments that go like this:

Obnoxious Loudmouth: “Why should I have to pay for your kid to get special treatment?!!”

Misunderstood Autism Parent: “You are a heartless jerk and you don’t understand!”

Instead, the time is right for a well thought policy position on the part of the autism community which says something more than “we want as much money as possible from all available sources.”    How much more will insurance policyholders have to pay when ABA services are covered?  Aren’t the majority of policyholders paying for coverage related to conditions that don’t affect them directly?

Autism Speaks has already waded into this discussion by stating that premium increases tend to be small, but they ought to do it much more clearly and consistently.   Essentially, I’d love to see an updated version of their “Insurance Discrimination” PSA  from a cost-benefit perspective.  Explain that the  costs of autism treatment can cause financial hardship and the insurance premium increase for coverage is low.  Explain that adding coverage for proven therapies for conditions that affect families in growing numbers is necessary and not unprecedented.   Explain what these therapies, particularly ABA, actually do.

Of course, the law also requires schools to fund services, and this is where I belive that the autism community needs to tread carefully.  It is tempting to fight to the bitter end for all services to which we are legally entitled, however I have come to believe that it is very important to choose your battles wisely and wage them with more precision than emotion.  More on this in my next post.

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Eric Jager
Producing a conference on disability and employment
Eric Jager

Eric Jager

Producing a conference on disability and employment

0 thoughts on “Refining the Message: Autism and Insurance Reform

  • Julie

    Sadly… having a child with autism puts a HUGE dent in your pocket. Many of the families I work with can only afford a few hours of therapy a week, but if they were able to pay more their child’s progress would be growing more steadily. Hopefully they figure this issue out.


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