Research raises questions about impact of state autism insurance mandates
A total of 44 states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books requiring health insurers to cover autism treatments. But new research evaluating the so-called ‘insurance mandates’ suggests these efforts are failing in key ways to help people — especially children — get needed therapy.
Researchers found that the state mandates — which apply to coverage available on the individual market and some group and employer plans — led to about 12 percent more children getting some kind of treatment for autism. But when compared with the number believed to have the condition, it’s not nearly enough, they say.
“These numbers are orders of magnitude below” the CDC’s autism estimates, says David Mandell, one of the researchers and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research. “It suggests that a lot of commercially insured kids with autism are not being treated through their insurance.”