Autism and Health Insurance

August 8th, 2007 by Brad C

Now that over 560,000 children in the US have been diagnosed with autism, the obligations of the health insurance industry are under serious debate.  Early, intense intervention can make a large difference in a child’s development, but of course it is expensive.  Insurance companies argue that covering those expenses will raise the cost of health insurance for everyone else.  That debate is currently focused on Wisconsin, where Gov. Jim Doyle and Senate Democrats are pushing legislation that would require and define health insurance coverage for autism, according to a recent posting on

The debate stems from the classification of autism as an emotional disorder rather than a neurological condition.  Coverage of mental health issues usually is much more limited than physical conditions, including higher deductibles, lower payouts and an annual cap on the total amount of benefits.  As a medical condition, coverage caps increase significantly, and many more options are available to insured individuals.  Currently 17 states have legislation requiring that autism be covered as a medical condition.

It is a difficult question.  Our friend’s daughter is autistic, and caring for her dominates their lives and their finances.  The good news is that every state has programs that already provide assistance to families afflicted with autism.  But if hundreds of thousands of additional dollars were spent on each autistic child, the money has to come from somewhere, and in the insurance industry, that means higher premiums for everyone.

My heart goes out to these families, but life isn’t always fair.  If this legislation passes, do we then pass the same legislation for every other devastating disease?  Think what our health insurance premiums would be then.  What’s your opinion?

Listen to Autism and Health Insurance
Listen to Autism and Health Insurance

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