National Standard for Autism Insurance Coverage in U.S.
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- This is a picture of myself and my autistic son, Eli taken a year ago. The challenges that our family have faced in getting Eli the services he so desperately needed has become the motivation for me to speak up for those with autism who have no voice. There are many children in the U.S. who suffer from autism who have not been able to receive the services that they need. They have been left behind, and the burden that has been placed on their shoulders and the shoulders of their families is too much for any person to bear alone. Help give hope to those in dire need and sign this petition!
- There is a growing need in the United States for access to affordable treatment for autistic children. The importance of early diagnosis and intervention for autistic children has been well established and accepted by the medical community, yet insurance coverage for treatment varies widely by state, and is often minimal. In order to enhance successful treatment outcomes and ensure autistic children reach their potential, insurance companies must be required to cover necessary treatment for autistic individuals. The only way to ensure this happens is to set a national standard for insurance coverage of autism that includes what specific services are to be covered.
- Over the past decade, there has been a significant rise in the number of children who are diagnosed autistic. In 2012, the Center for Disease Control reported that 1 in 50 children between the ages of six and seventeen were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, as compared to the five cases per 10,000 children reported in the 1960s. There could be many reasons why we have seen such an increase in autism. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the number of autistic children in our society is increasing, and we have an obligation as a society to ensure these children reach their potential by providing insurance coverage for necessary treatment.
- Those who oppose mandated insurance coverage claim that care for individuals with autism is the responsibility of the parents and school system. It is educational, not medical. However, because autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, this makes it a physical, medical issue. While there are educational aspects involved, it is not a purely educational issue. The best hope for autistic children to achieve their potential and develop into productive members of society is if support is provided to them in the home, educational, and medical settings. All three of these areas are paramount to the proper development of autistic children. If left untreated or diagnosed too late in life, autism can leave an individual socially impaired. An individual’s quality of life is greatly reduced without the ability to establish and maintain significant interpersonal relationships. It is the obligation of society to do all it can to provide the necessary support to such individuals. Without societal support, these individuals are far more likely to fail to reach their potential, becoming dependent upon disability programs throughout adulthood. These outcomes decrease individual quality of life as well as place a greater financial burden on society.
- Others who are opposed claim that mandating insurance coverage for autism will increase insurance premiums for everybody. It has been estimated by the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, that this mandate would increase premiums by 1%. It is true that this would require insurance premiums to go up, but it will be a very small increase that will be divided up over a large group of people, which will make the increase very minimal. If families of autistic children were left to bear this financial burden without insurance coverage, it would put them in insurmountable debt. Many families would not be able to cover the costs, which would lead to many children simply not receiving treatment. This is something that cannot be allowed to happen. As was previously mentioned, autistic children require a substantial amount of support and treatment in order to reach their potential. If children don’t receive necessary treatment, it becomes highly likely for children to become isolated as adults, unproductive, or even involved in crime. When this happens, it becomes an even bigger financial burden on society, so it is more cost effective in the long run to pay a slightly higher insurance premium to ensure autism services are covered.
- Treatments that have been proven to be the most successful for autistic individuals include Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA therapy, which is not covered in many states. While many states have autism coverage, it is limited to 'mental health' coverage, which only includes behavioral therapy, which is only the tip of the iceberg of what an autistic child needs in order to succeed. It is in our best interest as a society to help these individuals meet their potential.
- Therefore, in order to solve the aforementioned problem, the Affordable Care Act must be amended to include a national standard for autism coverage that includes respite and habilitation services, ABA therapy and treatment, physical, occupational, speech, and behavioral therapy, as well as any treatment or therapies that are deemed necessary by the child's primary care physician. Any treatment for an autistic child must be covered by the insurance upon the referral of the child's physician. This will ensure that autistic children are receiving the treatment that they so desperately need.
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