Governor Jerry Brown today signed Senate Bill 126 which extends benefits of the California Autism Insurance Mandate through January 1, 2017. The mandate requires that private health care insurance plans provide coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, supervised by Board Certified Behavior Analysts, for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
The bill unanimously passed the California State Assembly and Senate in May.
Nearly 13,000 families have benefited from the insurance mandate, as many individuals with ASD require long-term support at an estimated $3.2 million per person. Early intervention therapy alone reduces those costs by more than half over an individual's life span. The California Department of Insurance estimates annual taxpayer savings of up to $200 million in intervention costs from regional centers and special education programs
While the insurance mandate has been met with great success in California, coverage for families of children with autism across the United States has not been as readily available. However, the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect October 1, leads the way for low-income families, including those with disabilities and special needs, to have more insurance options and for their children to stay on their parent's plan until the age of 26 instead of 18. While ABA therapy isn't specifically stated in the law, it is currently the only medical treatment approved for ASD.
California is currently the benchmark for autism insurance mandates, although 34 states in total have some form of mandate, and will hopefully serve as the example for autism coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
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