Health Coverage for Autistic Children

Michael Giangregorio, Vice President of Trading Services at JP Morgan has a 12-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. The costs for special schooling and speech and occupational therapy can rack up to the thousands as children get older. His current employer, JP Morgan, recently announced that they will be providing comprehensive autism coverage for expensive therapies such as Applied Behavioral Analysis in its 2014 health plan.

According to a 2012 research study done by the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics costs for people with autism can amount to over $1 million in treatment over their lifespan. An increasing number of major companies, such as General Motors Co., Chrysler Group, and American Express Co., are also announcing this year that they will be including at least partial coverage in their company’s healthcare plan.

Congress is also making moves to implement similar coverage policies. The House took a vote on Friday to send a bill to the Senate that would make it mandatory for insurance companies to provide coverage and treatment for children in Kansas who have been diagnosed with autism. The results were 114-3, and the bill pushes on to the Senate where they will continue the debate on this legislation.

This coverage would help many families in coping with treatment costs for their children, including roughly 1,000 children in Kansas who would be covered under the law. The bill includes guidelines on the number of hours autistic children are allotted to receive these services as well as well as age limits. Insurance companies would have to provide coverage for applied behavioral analysis for up to 25 hours per week for four years after a child is diagnosed. Once the child approaches the age of 12, the number of hours covered is lowered to 10.

Some critics of this bill argue that it is unfair to mandate specific services for their insurance to cover. They believe that this legislation interferes too much into the policies that insurance companies already have. However, legislators, such as Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a Kansas City Democrat is pushing against this criticism by saying, “I didn’t know I worked for insurance companiesWe’re here to represent the people.”

Although the future of this bill remains uncertain, we are excited to know that major companies at least have initiated and implemented this push for coverage, with stories such as Michael Giangregario paving the way. Giangregario has also voiced his support with our Director of Strategic Alliances at ICare4Autism, affiliated organization to Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, in working together with industry professionals to implement positive change for autistic children.