It’s been nearly two years since Massachusetts passed one of the strongest laws in the nation mandating that insurers provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism, without any annual or lifetime limits on the amount of coverage. Yet some of the state’s biggest employers — including Boston University and Harvard — don’t provide coverage for therapeutic services that can cost families tens of thousands of dollars every year
They don’t have to under the state’s ARICA law because they’re self-funded plans that are regulated by federal law and not subject to state law. The federal government added autism coverage to its benefits package for federal employees last June.
Some Boston-area companies with self-funded plans such as Partners HealthCare, Tufts University, Iron Mountain, the Lahey Clinic, State Street Corporation, and Ocean Spray have opted to include autism coverage in their health plans. Others, though, seem to be dragging their heels.
“Places like Harvard and BU don’t provide coverage for their employees, but they were part of the [Autism] Consortium that testified in support of the state legislation mandating coverage,” said Judith Ursitti, director of state government affairs at Autism Speaks, a nonprofit advocacy and research group. “It’s ironic hypocrisy.”