The New York Times reports today that lawmakers in New York State have passed legislation which will require insurers to cover autism treatments. The bill now goes to Governor Paterson for consideration.
Paul F. Macielak, chief executive of the New York Health Plan Association, is concerned that premiums will rise 2 per cent as result, while, Peter Bell, EVP of Autism Speaks estimates that the increase will be closer to 0.5 percent based on an analysis of other states which have passed similar legislation.
Of course, arguments over cost are common when insurance coverage is expanded; witness the pushback in Missouri as recently as this month. The Times article doesn’t specify which treatments will be covered, but let’s assume that ongoing ABA therapy which must be provided by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst will account for most of the cost increase–a reasonable assumption given the fact that similar legislation has required coverage of up to $40,000 per year in ABA. In my view, the cost issue will be best addressed by including parent training in the required coverage and ultimately revisiting exactly how much professionally delivered ABA is required on a weekly basis.
Speaking of parent training, ours started two weeks ago, six months after we submitted a written request to our school district, and five months after the request was approved. We are currently receiving three hours per week, an amount which will be reduced over time, after we are able to set up and independently run programs for targeted self-help and leisure skills. Although MJ receives ABA-based instruction both at home and at school, we have already seen the benefits of our training.
A word to insurance companies and school districts: Find me a BCBA to help me to help my kid, and I may save all of us some money in the long run.