At The State, Chris King writes of insurance legislation in South Carolina:
As the owner of a small business, I care about my employees, a strong and healthy community and a fiscally responsible state government. For all these reasons, I support Senate bill 135, which would help children with autism get the treatment they need.
Autism is a brain disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. It can be treated so the symptoms are not as disabling. A non-verbal child can develop the ability to communicate; a non-social child can acquire interpersonal skills; a child with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors can be freed from this tragic condition.
The most commonly prescribed treatment is applied behavior analysis, which has been used to treat children with autism for more than 40 years. When it is administered intensively, nearly half of the children who receive it are able to enter school indistinguishable from their peers.
As with other treatments for serious illness, these costs are difficult if not impossible for the average family to bear. That’s why families have health insurance — but some families have been denied benefits for their children. That’s just unfair.
S.135 helps remedy this by requiring certain health insurance plans to cover doctor-prescribed autism treatment, including applied behavior analysis. Many plans are already required to include this coverage. Under a law passed in 2007, fully funded group plans that cover 50 or more employees must cover autism treatment. So must the State Employee Health Plan.
Many self-funded corporations that employ South Carolinians have voluntarily included autism benefits in their plans — AT&T, Bank of America, WalMart, Starbucks, Volvo, Wells Fargo, the federal government, TD Bank, Greenville Health System, Lexington Medical, Boeing, BMW and Nexsen Pruet, for example.
This means that people who work for state government, fully funded large-group plans and self-funded corporations have autism benefits. Even children on Medicaid have the benefits. But the Average Joe who works for a small business does not. Average Joe’s child with autism is simply going without the treatment prescribed by his doctor, unless Average Joe happens to be independently wealthy.
S.135 would fix this, and the Senate has already passed it. The House should act now before it’s too late for many of these children.