Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mandating Autism Coverage

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story that New York was very close to becoming the 23rd state in the country to require insurance companies to cover autism treatments. I have several friends who face $50,000+ in annual medical bills paying for therapy for their children.

Last week, I attended two separate forums on Virginia's exploding autism population, the lack of infrastructure to support it, and talking about ways to help families cope. Requiring Virginia insurers has become a perrenial fight in the General Assembly. Here is a WAMU story about this past session's efforts.

One of the big arguments against this idea is that if other states do not mandate coverage, it puts Virginia insurers and eventually companies at a competitive disadvantage with other states because their rates and costs are higher due to this additional coverage. Given that most states seem to be moving towards covering autism, this argument does not carry as much weight as it formerly did.

The purpose of health insurance is to help spread the risk and cost of ailments across broader populations so that the burden of medical expenses does not fall entirely upon individual families. Autism is not a matter of choice. I am hopeful that was can get this legislation moving and join the rest of the country instead of being the last one to act.

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