New Insurance Benefit Will Cover More Children with Autism

Jun 29, 2015

A wide array of new state laws take effect July 1st, and among them are a statute that will ultimately extend health insurance coverage to many more children with autism spectrum disorder.  The mandatory benefit covers diagnosis and treatment—and applies to ALL insurers except plans offered by self-insured companies and smaller businesses.

Delegate Tag Greason
Credit Anne Marie Morgan

Lawmakers added a mandated insurance benefit for autism spectrum disorder in 2011. But the new law’s sponsor, Delegate Tag Greason, says that only covers children who are ages two through six.

“Fast forward now to 2015.  We’ve seen the data here in Virginia, we’ve seen data in other states, that those services are really beneficial to the young children who receive them.”

Greason says some may be diagnosed very early in life, but that’s not the norm.

“The average age is at age six.  And our law was potentially providing the average child with one year of coverage. So extending that to age 10 really does work with the math problem that we had—which, if the average age is age six, we really need to give a few years of insurance coverage to help those children progress.”

While the law takes effect this week, insurers must extend the coverage with plans offered on or after January 1st.  A second new law establishes ABLE savings trust accounts administered by the Virginia College Savings Plan. The goal is to facilitate private savings to pay the expenses of certain disabled Virginians, including those with autism.