SEATTLE, March 10 (UPI) -- Treatment for autism can be expensive, sometimes costing families anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 a year, and insurers have been historically reluctant to cover some therapies they argue are educational rather than medical.
At the core of this debate is applied behavioral analysis, a therapy which aims to raise a client’s level of independence or functionality through behavioral conditioning -- for instance, a child who is working on developing socials skills might be rewarded with verbal praise or a healthy snack after behaving appropriately during an exercise.
Doctors and parents see ABA as an essential part of treatment for autism, while insurers insist it is simply education and not a medical therapy.
Kansas, one of 17 states that don’t broadly mandate private insurance coverage of autism, saw a proposal in its State Senate last week that would force insurers to cover treatment.
Rep. Scott Schwab, a Republican who chairs the House Insurance Committee, opposed the bill claiming it would drive up premiums, requiring coverage many would never use, and worrying about other specialized coverages, asking: “Who’s the next group to come and ask for a mandate?”
Some critics call the bill’s proposed coverage too narrow, but lawmakers led by Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee say they’ve crafted a compromise with the insurance industry that allows for “some wins on both sides.”