Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Cover autism treatment under insurance plans in all 50 U.S. states
As of now, 32 states have laws on the books mandating insurance coverage for autism. But eighteen states still allow insurers to ban coverage, bankrupting families and sometimes even causing them to lose their children. Advocacy organization Autism Speaks is pushing for a federal law requiring all 50 states to mandate coverage.
Utah is one of those 18 states. ABC News published an article on April 2 (World Autism Day) showing the plight of families who can’t pay for treatment. Over the past three years, at least 20 families have had to surrender their children to the state because they couldn’t pay the bills. The worst thing about this is that the state of Utah has already proven itself to be unconcerned with what happens to these children.
The most effective treatment for autism is applied behavior analysis. Treated intensely and early, children are likely to develop social skills nearly on par with those of their peers. A story from CNN tells the story of an autistic little girl named Ava. Ava’s home state of Georgia didn’t require coverage for her treatment, but with help from her community, her family was able to put her through behavioral therapy. She is now able to sit at the dinner table with her family and needs less treatment than she started with. Applied behavior analysis can cost over $100,000 per year. Recent studies show that 1 in 50 children now qualify for a diagnosis of autism.
Insurance companies claim that mandating autism coverage will make insurance rates unaffordable. Autism Speaks proved this to be untrue. The advocacy organization did an analysis of 15 states that do mandate coverage and found that insurance premiums went up by less than $10 a year.
Years ago, President Barack Obama drafted a federal autism insurance coverage mandate. But the Obama administration recently declined to include autism therapy in the list of things insurers must cover starting next year. Please urge President Obama to amend health care reform and include autism therapy as a benefit covered by insurers.
Dear President Obama,
We would like to congratulate you for drafting a bill back in 2008 to mandate federal insurance coverage for autism. However, we are disappointed that your administration hasn’t followed through with it. Although most states require insurance companies to cover autism treatment, there are still 18 states that don’t.
In the state of Utah, for example, at least 20 families have been forced to give their children up to the state because they couldn’t pay for the children’s treatment, which can cost over $100,000 per year. Since Utah has already shown its lack of concern, these children’s future prospects are worrisome.
Insurance companies argue that a federal mandate covering autism treatment would make insurance unaffordable for everyone. But Autism Speaks did a study of 15 states that do mandate coverage, and insurance premiums went up less than $10 a year because of it. Overall, autism costs society about $126 billion each year. But with early treatment, children often develop at a level appropriate with their peers. (CNN.com)
Autism rates are skyrocketing in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 50 children now qualify for a diagnosis. Please require insurers to cover autism treatment so these children have a better chance of growing up to be productive members of society, and so their parents won’t lose everything.
[Your Name Here]