The agency in charge of managing health benefits for the nation's 8.2 million federal employees, retirees and dependents is urging its participating health plans to start covering ABA in 2014 or explain why they are refusing coverage.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) last year recommended for the first time that health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program include coverage for applied behavior analysis (ABA). But of the 230 participating plans around the nation, only 67 offered the benefit for 2013 and many areas wityh large concentratiobns of federal employees, such as the National Captial Region, lacked coverage.
The coverage is significant as federal employees represent the largest single workforce in the United States. In March, a bipartisan coalition of 11 Members of Congress from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia urged OPM to demand better coverage from FEHB's participating health plans.
As the health plans now start developing their 2014 coverage, OPM has issued guidance that “encourage[s] plans to offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for children with autism,” and requires them to complete an online survey. The survey asks insurers that cover ABA in one of the 32 states that has enacted autism insurance reform whether they cover ABA for FEHB members and, if they do not, in what year they plan to do so.