Battling autism: Lawmaker wants to require insurance coverage

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  • mine Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 22, 2012 8:56 p.m.

    This is long overdue, mental health been on the back burner for a long time. These children will eventually end up care of the state either in the medicaid system, special education, or even the prison system. We need to address this as an investment in our children.

    When my autistic son goes for a mental health appointment, the copay is $96, regular doctor copay is $25. What gives? Simple parity is not asking to much!

  • K Mchenry, IL
    Jan. 21, 2012 11:15 p.m.

    Insurance wouldn't offer coverage for breast reconstruction after cancer if not required by law. Insurance wouldn't cover for mammograms, infertility diagnosis, the list goes on and on. Nothing stopping insurance companies for providing? Nothing stopping people from buying insurance where it is covered? It's not available. Doesn't count toward out of pocket as its not covered. Just like reconstruction after breast cancer, they cover it when required by law. You think the insurance company is the best to decide what is medically necessary? It's a for profit business.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Jan. 21, 2012 9:28 a.m.

    A cute story starts with lego bricks and I read on patiently and learn that a politician is trying to enforce more insurance on us.

    Nothing is stopping medical insurance companies offering insuramce for autism, nothing is stopping people from buying such insurance, nothing is stopping people from giving generously to this as well as other causes.

    The biggest problem is the loss of integrity, character and freedom in what is now routinely dubbed "the greatest country the world has ever known". We stand for nothing if we do not stand for freedom and character. Failing that no amount of laws will compensate or save us from ourselves.

  • j.gunnell Providence, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 3:52 p.m.

    This is a step that many states have taken for long term savings on healthcare spending, for a disorder that affects 1 in 77 children in Utah. I've worked over three years as a behavioral therapist working with children with autism. We currently have ten students but have a waiting list several times that. Early as possible intervention is key with autism, and this reform will do a lot to help out the autism community in a big way.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    Jan. 20, 2012 1:32 p.m.

    It's not the kid's fault or the parents fault when a child is diagnosed with Autism. To sweep it under the rug, and not deal with a life-long situation is bad - but to neglect a child from getting the help they need in the first 5 years of their lives to become productive people is really taking and handing off the issue to society as a whole. Maybe premiums might be a bit more, but it is something to truly consider in the overall moral consciousness of society.

  • Joshua Steimle Draper, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 11:19 a.m.

    No matter how noble the intent, there is no moral justification for using force to take from one person to give to another.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 20, 2012 11:01 a.m.

    Re: one old man | 7:35 a.m. Jan. 20, 2012

    The US Supreme Court is going to rule on Obamacare at the end of their current term ..... just before the 2012 elections. Care to place a bet on the outcome? Hint: It will be 5 to 4 and Obama won't like their decision.

  • browneyedgirl18 OREM, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    I work with kids with autism doing ABA treatment. These kids have serious difficulties they need to overcome and CAN overcome with the right therapy. Children who previously would have been destined to depend on disability and the state their entire lives are now going to school, getting jobs, paying taxes and contributing to society. I've seen this happen to these children. The problem is that when the parents can't afford the therapy and treatment then what? I am so excited for this bill that will end up saving the state millions of dollars and helping thousands of kids reach their full potential. I'll be cheering this bill on!

  • mommabear North Logan, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 10:30 a.m.

    The purpose of this bill is to stop discrimination against a growing group of people. Most people don't realize that not only are insurance companies not required to cover medically necessary services for people with autism, but they can refuse to cover them at all. If insurance companies refused to cover hearing aides for a deaf child, we would all find that ridiculous and wrong. So why don't we feel the same way about autism?

    Imagine finding out that your child has autism, but your insurance won't pay for therapies. You now have two choices: let your child fall behind and become dependent on others and society, or pay for the therapies yourself. And when the therapies cost more money than you have? Do you start selling your possessions, maybe take out a second mortgage? Or do you give up on your child, write him/her off as a failure? These are choices thousands of families in Utah are faced with.

    The article says that 47% of ASD kids who receive ABA treatment can live a "normal" life. What it doesn't mention is that 100% of children receiving treatment will see a significant improvement in ability and their quality of life.

    This bill isn't trying to force people and companies to pay for others. It is stopping insurance companies from discriminating against people with autism. As I recall, discrimination is not something we accept in the United States.

  • ASDsupport WEST JORDAN, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 10:25 a.m.

    My son has autism, as do 1 in 77 children in Utah growing up today. This number is beyond the national average. Treatment does indeed break the bank of a family trying to provide an opportunity for a child to grow into a productive, independent tax paying citizen of Utah. Without insurance support that I currently do not enjoy, I will do everything in my power to support my son with scientific and evidence supported treatments for him. I will exhaust my saving's this year. Without the treatments that this legislation would support, the children who will grow to adulthood will become a responsibility of the state as they consume state services. We can pass the buck again at our own peril and look to bankrupt the state when these children reach adulthood and begin consuming taxpayer subsidized services. 29 States in the Union currently have a similar law in the books. 70% of the American population resides in those states. We have another opportunity to safeguard the state against that future.

  • ClarkKent Bountiful, Utah
    Jan. 20, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    "Her recent study showed that in 2008, 1 in 77 Utah 8-year-olds were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, compared to one in 110 nationally. The difference may be attributed to more awareness and better diagnosis within Utah, but she noted it's an increase over earlier studies."

    Delta-Foxtrot, I agree with your opinion. Austism is one of the most most mis-diagnosed "diseases" in the last decade. Why? Because benefits are available. I personally am aware of two single parents in this State who went doctor shopping and each had one of their boys diagnosed as high functioning austistic. Not a thing wrong with these kids. But the disagnosis gave these parents a few hours of free child care each week and many other free benefits. For some, its a scam and they spread the word to their friends. Their kids attend public school, play sports, get decent grades, etc., but are now labelled as being autistic and that label will now never be removed.

  • livingthedream Layton, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 10:16 a.m.

    Serving hundreds of families with autism, I can tell you I have met many who either refuse to get a diagnosis (for fear of rejection from insurance carriers) and many others who do not talk publicly about their child's diagnosis for fear that their child will be "labeled". I do not know of any who use an autism diagnosis as a crutch or an excuse.

    The process of obtaining an autism diagnosis is difficult, time consuming, expensive and (God forbid an affirmative diagnosis) an emotionally devastating experience. It seems unlikely that there is a plausible motive for parents or physicians to improperly diagnose a child with autism that is "actually fine". The majority of parents of children with autism that I have served would do anything within their power to help their child with autism. They are not interested in pity, attention or excuse. They just desperately want their child to receive the medical services that have been empirically proven to increase their chances of achieving normal functioning from 2% (without treatment) to 47% (with treatment).

    Let's not miscategorize autism parents as seeking for anything more than a parent of a child with diabetes, cancer, bi-polar disorder or any other medical condition. They seek only what the rest of us who purchase health insurance seek: Coverage for medical conditions. They are happy to pay their premiums that cover a wide range of conditions their family (thankfully) is not enduring. They would never say: "It's not fair that I have to pay for someone else's child's leukemia." It is as reasonable for them to ask that their child's medical condition be covered as it is for them to pay premiums that covert their neighbor's insulin pump.

  • Summerangelwings HEBER CITY, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 10:14 a.m.

    Early intervention is the key to successful, independent adults. It's cost effective to help these children early. I've worked in group homes with autistic adults. My son reached all his mile stones including speaking in sentences at 17 months. He started to lose his speech, balance, muscle tone and became allergic to most of the food he ate. He's come a long way with early intervention. Our insurance company told us if our son was addicted to drugs then they would cover his therapies. He isn't on drugs he has autism. If you see us in public, our son is not "just fine". He needs help communicating his needs & processing his senses. We're doing everything possibly can please help stop insurance discrimination. We pay insurance premium, taxes and work really hard. I pray for a brighter future for our children.

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 9:54 a.m.

    I hate to tell ya', but autism is being redefined. Some three quarters of the people who qualify as autistic under the current definition won't qualify under the new definition.

    Society needs to stop using autism as a crutch and an excuse. Most kids diagnosed with it are actually just fine.

  • livingthedream Layton, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    What many people don't understand is that they are paying for INEFFECTIVE treatment for autism right now in the form of special education services, long term care services and other public programs to the tune of about 3.2 million dollars per person with autism. If they are treated they stand a 47% chance of achieving normal functioning and contributing to society rather than costing society millions of dollars. So not only are families and individuals burdened by inability to access quality medical care for autism - the state is burdened with a huge bill for a large population of untreated individuals with autism. In addition - the schools are required by law to accommodate children with autism whether they are treated or not. An untreated child with autism disrupts the entire classroom and lessens the quality of education for everyone involved. It is as big of a problem for families affected by autism as it is for families with children in the public school system with children who are untreated for autism.

  • scojos Draper, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    I have always said that Utah's opposition to anything "Federal" is only because Utah themselves don't control the "whip". As "Obamacare" sees the need for a mandate, especially for young people, now we see a good instance where a "state mandateed" policy is reasonable for autistic. Actually what's wrong with a mandate that solves a societal problem? If it works for the good of all, Democrats and Republicans ? Nothing. The only thing wrong with Obama's reqiuired mandate is that it was passed by Obama. Bob Dole,Jack Kemp,Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney (Republicans all)all sought mandates when they advanced their health plans. Only Rommney was successful. But along comes a first year US Senator that is black and has the gall to run for US President and promise the people healthcare for all. And lo and behold he does both. Ergo the opposition!!

  • mdp Bountiful, utah
    Jan. 20, 2012 8:34 a.m.

    When will Utah Republicans stop acting like liberal Democrats?

  • roswell Saint George, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 8:04 a.m.

    While this article demonstrates the need for early care for autistic children, I believe we should be very cautious in demanding or legislating that private insurance cover this or any specific care. Private insurers should be free to cover what they want, and purchasers of that coverage are responsible to know what their coverage is. What we are creating in the US particularly is an environment where we look to government to legislate a resolution for every issue. We legislate that there be no mistakes, and when there are there must be a lawsuit and punitive compensation. In many realms we have created so many regulations that it actually fosters mistakes, delays, and inefficiency. It is the mentality that someone else should be responsible for resolving our problems.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 7:55 a.m.

    I also believe that "making an investment in the child at an early age can save the state..." money over the long run, and having insurance in place would be a good thing. Since it could also be a challenge to small business owners to increase the coverage, though, the state should also give some type of equivalent tax credits to businesses with the insurance, whether or not the insurance is required by law. This is particularly important, when all employers are not required to offer insurance to their employees in the first place.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 7:35 a.m.

    Wait a minute!

    Isn't this Obamacare? A Republican pushing for health insurance that might actually provide help for people instead of big bucks for insurance companies?


  • md Cache, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 6:44 a.m.

    Government mandated insurance coverage is not the answer.

  • windsor City, Ut
    Jan. 20, 2012 5:34 a.m.

    All physical and mental illnesses and injuries should be covered by insurance, not just those currently considered as 'approved' conditions.

  • MyChildrensKeeper Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 4:56 a.m.

    The state is trying to blindside taxpayers again, to the tune of billions of dollars of increased taxes.

    The only reason they want forced insurance coverage is so the state board of education can bill insurance companies for special education teachers as medical doctors. It will put health care in our education budget, where it doesn't belong. We must keep health care and education segregated and this laws is another deception by education and a greater burden on the taxpayers and taxes without representation. If education and health care become unified, we lose more of our rights and loss of incomes and increased health care costs at a time when the economy and incomers is in the gutter. More grueling taxes and punishment for those living in poverty in Utah. Poverty is the state of the economy and its time to stop government expansion and costs.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 20, 2012 3:58 a.m.

    Where does the state get its authority to tell business how to run its business? Is this a state attempt to put private insurgence companies out of business so the state can take full control of funding hostipatl growth and expanding health care cost?

    Utah does not have the right to change and alter entitlements to federal medicaid funds, I don't care how many laws they write to take control of federal laws. And the State does not have the right to madate coverage of any private business or Medicare or Medicaid.

    These kinds of laws turn out the lights of business, even insurance companies and its time the state government get in line with in the rights of private business rights and stop this nonsense legislation.

    Utah is wasting billions of dollars of the Federal Medicaid funds every working taxpayer it belongs too? The State has the audacity to claim that Medicaid is their property, it belongs to the taxpayers and 49 other states, not the Utah department of welfare. Utah governments wasteful and illegal spending of medicaid is criminal.