Healthy Living: Autism Insurance
Having a child with autism can have a large toll on parents. But if insurance does not cover screenings, diagnosis, and treatments, it can be devastating. Casey Bortnick covers details on a new law on insurance.
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Hours after class is over, Jack Carroll is still hard at work.
“School ends at three o’clock and autism does not,” said Gia.
“He’s going to be living with autism for the rest of his life. But he continues to make tremendous progress,” said Gia.
For kids like Jack, “Jack is 12 now,” the road to progress starts at a young age.
“We started this journey when he was almost three,” said Gia.
Soon after diagnosis, Jack began an intense regimen of behavioral therapy. Now 12, he sees a private tutor twice a week. His mother Gia learned early on that her health insurance company wouldn’t be helping.
“We felt like kids and individuals with autism had been discriminated against. Because there are other conditions covered by insurance and autism has not been one of those,” said Gia.
New York State law requires some coverage for autism but the law was vague when it came to behavioral sciences. Vague enough, some say, to allow insurance carriers to deny coverage. That left many families with heart wrenching choices.
New York State Assemblyman Joseph Morelle said, “If you had two children and you had to make a decision between the health care of one of their children and perhaps the college tuition of another. What kind of choice could you make?”
Twice, State Assemblyman Morelle sponsored a bill that would require insurance companies to cover screenings, diagnosis and treatment for autism spectrum disorders. This year, with the support of a new governor and a coverage cap of about $45,000 per year, per person, it was signed into law.
Dr. Tristram Smith is a clinical Psychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He said there are gaps in the health and educational system for kids with autism. Smith said this has the potential to be milestone legislation.
Dr. Smith said, “So we’re not really sure where this will go but we do know that there are opportunities to provide better services for our children with autism and families.
“Beautifully done Jack,” After years of hard work, “It takes an emotional toll,” there are more tough years ahead, “It takes a financial toll,” said Gia.
Jack’s family and thousands of others like them would welcome a helping hand.
Gia said, “We need Jack to be the best person he can be. And we will do anything that we can to make that happen.”