In The Politics of Autism, I write about the limits of insurance mandates:
There are no exact figures available, but suppose that we take the total number of autistic people and subtract the following:
• Those in states without mandates;
• Those who live in states with mandates but are under exempt, self-funded plans;
• Those with individual and small group policies to which post-2011 mandates do not apply, and
• Those who have already gone over the various limits and caps.
The remainder surely makes up a minority of the autistic population.
When North Carolina passed a 2015 law requiring health insurance companies to cover specialized therapies for children with autism, families with affected children rejoiced at the news.
But more than two years after the mandate became law, some families are no closer to getting access to the intense treatments that can cost upwards of $40,000 a year.osed with autism several years ago. Since then, her parents have been trying to get their insurance to pay for applied behavioral analysis, or ABA therapy for her without success.
“I haven’t met anybody who is actually affected by the law,” said Abegail McGrew, a Huntersville mother whose 5-year-old daughter was diagnosed two years ago with autism. “I don’t know what they wrote it for.”
The mandate, as passed, would require insurance plans regulated in North Carolina to provide up to $40,000 annually of adaptive behavior therapies for those under 18 and on the autism spectrum. Co-pays and deductibles would still apply, so those with a $5,000 deductible or co-pays for individual sessions would still be on the hook for all those costs.
The plans that fall under the ABA mandate include companies with 50 or more employees, and who have health plans that operate only in the state of North Carolina, said Jennifer Mahan, public policy director for the Autism Society of North Carolina, one of the advocacy groups that pushed for the 2015 law.
But those make up only about 10 to 15 percent of the health care plans operating in the state, with large employers often utilizing different types of health care plans, Mahan said.
The state “doesn’t control a lot of the health plans out there, the federal government does,” she said.
Not included in the mandate are plans adopted by out-of-state companies or those with fewer than 50 employees. Also exempted are self-funded plans, where a company pays all the health care costs of their employees, while the insurance company only administers the plan as instructed. Self-funded plans are preferred by many employers because they have more control over what is offered, and in the long run, it can cost less or provide better coverage for employees