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Friday, January 28, 2011

Autism and Insurance in Oklahoma

Nick’s Law would have provided insurance coverage for the early diagnosis testing of autism and medications until the child becomes 21 years of age. A financial cap would have covered $50,000 of behavioral therapy per year without lifetime caps in the House plan.

State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, has filed HB 1624 to bring Nick’s Law to a vote of the people. With a large favorable response from a SoonerPoll last year showing 79.5 percent of all Oklahomans favoring passing of this measure.

A state actuarial report determined that Nick’s Law could raise insurance premiums from 7.8 percent to 19.8 percent.

In 2007, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, a research and advocacy association of insurance carriers, reported insurance mandates regarding autism will have little impact on the cost of health insurance premiums for consumers. The report assessed the incremental cost of state-mandated benefits for autism in 10 states would be less than 1 percent.

The Oklahoma State Education Employees Group Insurance Board announced its own study revealed that Nick’s law would have 1 percent or less impact on claims.

The Edmund [OK] Sun also reports on another measure:
State Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, has introduced coverage for autism and related disorders through the state’s high risk insurance pool.

“There’s been talk for years about trying to mandate coverage for private insurance and I think this is the best solution because it will give families one place to come where they can get coverage for their children,” Grau said.

The High Risk Pool was created by the Legislature in 1995 to serve those who have been denied health insurance due to a serious health condition.

Grau and his wife have been friends with Eric Littleton’s family for several years, having worshiped together at church. One of Eric’s twin 7-year-old sons contracted Landau-Kleffner syndrome in 2008.
State Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said he would need to study the specifics of HB 1248 before supporting it.

Murphey said he was an avid supporter last year of a bill by state Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, that was signed into law. Murphey said HB 3393 allows families to receive assistance they need through a school choice voucher program.

“Since so much of the treatment is behavioral and not so much medical I feel this is a great approach,” Murphey said.

Littleton said HB 3393 is well intentioned but he has not found a school in Oklahoma County that is willing to accept Solomon with HB 3393.

“Getting that expanded would help,” he said.