Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For Children With Autism, Oklahoma Is Not the Place to Be

Having autism is tough on children and their families, especially when the state they live in refuses to mandate insurance coverage for autism treatments.

The Rohde family in Oklahoma is particularly frustrated and is moving to Minnesota, a more autism friendly state.

The family says that each year they spend around $40,000 out of pocket on their son Nick's treatment.

They've fought long and hard asking Oklahoma legislators to mandate autism insurance coverage, but with no success.

Oklahoma is one of five states that refuse to pursue autism insurance reform.

The other four states not pursuing reform are North Dakota, Wyoming, Oregon and Utah.

Twenty-one states have enacted reform, and the rest of the country is slowly following suit.

In June, the New York Assembly joined the Senate in passing a bill that requires private health insurance companies to cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

The bill is before New York Governor David Paterson and hopefully will soon be signed into law. New Hampshire has a similar law awaiting passage from their governor.

At a recent press conference in New York, Peter Bell, Autism Speaks' EVP of programs and services, addressed why states need to mandate autism insurance reform. One of his reasons is:

When a child is first diagnosed, doctors often struggle to tell the parents what they should do. Years ago, many parents were told there wasn’t anything they could do. Autism was not treatable. Fortunately, we know this is no longer true. Autism is treatable, especially when diagnosed early.

No comments: