Lawmakers in West Virginia are again mulling over a bill that would require both public and private insurance providers to offer coverage of autism spectrum disorders. There is hope among parents of autistic children as well as their supporters that the proposal will finally be approved and pushed into law. More than 23 other states already require insurers to provide autism coverage, increasing the pressure on legislators to make the change.
Autism is a neurological disorder and comes in many forms. Typically, those with autism display difficulty communicating effectively, strained behavioral and social skills, and severe, particular aversion. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 100 children suffers from some form of autism.
The state’s education officials say there are more than 1,200 students with autism in the school system.
In 2009, Medicaid reported spending more than $31 million on victims of autism. This money was spent on a total of 805 people, averaging at $38,509 per person. Insurance coverage would help shoulder the financial aspect of autism while providing families with peace of mind.
Earlene Anglin is among the parents that have seen benefit from government programs aimed at helping her child with autism. Her son, diagnosed only a year after birth, has been able to be a part of applied behavioral analysis therapy. This has improved his performance in school and he does not require an aid. Anglin is sure that, because of this therapy, her son will attend college and obtain a good job.
Without insurance coverage, the costs of the therapy meant that Anglin and her family had to make cuts in their finances. They turned to family for assistance, her parents devoting a sizable portion of their retirement to help pay for their grandson’s care. According to coverage plans offered in other states, these costs would have been covered.
The bill is scheduled to reach the House of Delegates this week, after making its way through the Finance Committee, who will amend the bill with caps on the benefits of coverage based on a child’s age.