South Dakotans' health insurance costs would rise by as much as $2.50 per month if the state mandated coverage of an expensive but effective autism therapy many insurance plans won't pay for.
That's the conclusion of a report prepared for the Legislature by an outside consultant after passionate debate last year between parents and doctors touting the plan and insurance companies saying the therapy wasn't effective enough to justify the cost.
The report by Health Management Associates, released last week, concluded that insurance premiums would rise by 50 cents to $2.50 if ABA coverage were mandatory.
The report also found "moderate evidence" that ABA and similar treatments are effective. Children who receive ABA therapy while young "demonstrate improvements in language, cognitive, adaptive and ASD impairments" compared to a range of other treatments. The report found it was less clear whether ABA was effective among older children with autism.
Supporters of mandating ABA treatment said the report backs up their arguments.