Autism: Educational or Medical Treatment?
31st May 2012
By: Steven Muller
This week we took a step closer to answering the question “Is autism a medical or educational challenge?”
The question is significant because it helps us define which resource may fund solutions.
The insurance industry has long held that autism requires educational intervention and that health insurance should not cover this expense. This week the largest US employer, the United States federal government, reversed this position. The federal government employee health insurance recognizes that those covered by their health plan will be entitled to receive applied behavior analysis as a medical therapy to treat autism.
It should be noted this change does not mandate health insurance coverage for ABA treatment but it opens the door to a large group of Americans and sets a reasonable standard for moving autism services forward.
Iowa took a lead role a year ago when we passed a bill which offered ABA treatment for children with autism covered by our state employee health insurance plan. This year Iowa lawmakers considered a similar bill that would extend coverage to all health plans covered under Iowa law. Unfortunately this bill failed to pass.
Insurance companies lobbied lawmakers claiming the increased cost for ABA treatment would add costs and the state should avoid such mandates. What lawmakers fail to recognize is that early intervention can significantly decrease the need for expensive and life long services for an exploding population. There is also substantial evidence from other states that enacted similar ABA mandates that the final cost to participants is miniscule.
When we leave autism untreated the costs for adult services skyrocket. Currently taxpayers pick up this bill. These are the same taxpayers that pay health insurance premiums.
Invest early in children with autism.
Comment? Email me at Steve@TheHomestead.org