Search This Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Oklahoma: Autism Doesn't End with the School Day

The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance legislation in the states.

Opponents of insurance mandates say that schools should provide autism services. At Tulsa World, Carey Cadieux Ward writes:
But autism doesn’t end with the school day. What about children with autism who are unable to speak or communicate in any way? What about those who suffer from behaviors that cause them to hurt themselves or others, keeping them from even walking through the school doors in the first place?

The bad news is that health insurers in Oklahoma deny these treatments, saying that the schools should handle them. I wonder if the real assumption health plans are making is related to the cost of covering it. It’s a valid concern. Health insurance is expensive these days. But reasonable readers will recognize that other factors not originating in Oklahoma are causing that expense.

Actual claims data for autism coverage from multiple states show that the cost passed along to premiums payers is around 40-50 cents per month, less than the cost of a postage stamp. Meanwhile, the Harvard School of Public Health says it costs $3.2 million to care for individuals on the autism spectrum over their lifetime if they don’t get the treatment they need.

Some 43 states have passed autism insurance reform laws, including all states bordering Oklahoma. My assumption is that true fiscal conservatives who work hard and pay taxes in Oklahoma recognize the impact of those numbers.

Legislators from both parties recognize it too, and House Bill 2962 is the result. It’s a simple piece of legislation that requires health insurance to cover basic, evidence-based treatment for autism in Oklahoma.