Fair health benefits for children with Autism

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Currently the treatment for Autism is Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy (ABA). 37 states have enacted laws for ABA coverage through insurance must be provided, however there is a loophole in that law that if your employer is self-funded, they do not have to provide Autism coverage- and at an out of pocket cost of approximately 2,000/week, it is unaffordable for many families.

Autism is a severe, chronic developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication difficulties, and by restrictive and repetitive behaviors. The goal of treatment is to promote the child’s social and language development and minimize behaviors that interfere with the child’s function and learning. Applied Behavioral Analysis (or ABA) is a method of treating children with Autism. Many researchers and clinicians consider it to be the most effective evidence-based therapeutic approach for children with Autism.

Several studies have shown that about 50% of children who were treated with ABA before the age of 4 had significant increases in verbal ability, social functioning and increases in IQ. Also most children who received ABA therapy were eventually able to attend classes with their peers. ABA has been known as “short term expensive, but long term financially savvy” as the children treated with ABA are better able to function as teens and adults without the need for special education services.

The efficacy of ABA has been widely endorsed by the governmental authorities and the medical community.  The National Institute of Mental Health states:

“Among the many methods available for treatment and education of people with Autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been widely accepted as an effective treatment.” In 2007 the American Academy of Pediatrics reported, “The effectiveness of ABA-based intervention in the ASD has been well documented through five decades of research by using single-subject methodology and in controlled settings of comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings. Children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior, and their outcomes have been significantly better than those of children in control groups”

Michigan's state law on Autism passed in 2012. Although this state law is not enforceable on self- funded health plans, many companies are choosing to voluntarily comply with the state based aut8ism insurance reform. Companies such as Microsoft, Home Depot, GM, Ford Motor Company, Time Warner, as well as higher education institutions such as Princeton and Michigan State University have opted to provide ABA coverage in their self-funded insurance plans.

Implementing autism benefits makes good financial sense for society and employers. Employees whose autistic children can benefit from ABA will be more productive, employee retention is maximized as employees will not feel the need to leave employer in search of a job with state-regulated insurance. Autistic children who are helped by ABA to achieve higher levels of functioning have lower overall health costs and need less assistance from their families. Successful early intervention for children with autism significantly reduces the future burden on taxpayers, as well as the state. Several studies of private insurance coverage for ABA and Autism therapies have projected an actual cost savings that the particular state of over a million dollars per child.

Please consider signing and sharing this petition to have fair and equal access to ABA therapy for all children with Autism, they are our future generation and deserve the best start possible!

 



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