KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Parents Struggle With Costs Of Their Children’s Autism Care

The total cost for treating a child with autism can reach $5 million, but insurance companies rarely cover autism therapy and few states mandate it. CBS News reports that "an estimated one in every 150 children in America has autism and the number of reported cases is growing" while "parents are increasingly demanding that insurance companies cover the newest treatment."

CBS reports on the Oldham family in Virginia and how the parents Cassandra and Bill Oldham are dealing with the autism of Gareth and Korlan, two of their three children. CBS reports: "The emotional anguish was multiplied by financial stress."

"Intensive, one-on-one behavioral and speech therapy called 'applied behavior analysis therapy' or ABA helps the boys. But it costs up to $7,000 a month per child for the recommended 40 hours per week. The Oldhams struggled to pay even half the amount."

The family has insurance, "but not for autism therapy because Virginia isn't one of the seven states that mandate coverage. Businesses say adding autism to the list is too expensive."

Cassandra Oldham and state Delegate Bob Marshall "are pushing legislation that would force insurers to cover ABA, and say the costs of a policy would be minimal - somewhere between $2 and $4 a month" (Assuras, 6/21).

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