For some people with autism and their families, the New Year ushered in new options for health insurance. Beginning January 1, 2011, six states – Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and New Hampshire – began mandating insurance plans that cover autism diagnosis and treatment. These state mandates go beyond federal health laws in ensuring children with pre-existing conditions can get health insurance.
Under new federal laws – which took effect in September 2010 – insurance companies were barred from denying coverage to children with medical problems. But, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, many states simply stopped issuing new child-only policies over concerns that parents would get insurance only after their child became sick.
An excerpt from the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration clarifies the state’s mandate in a frequently asked questions section on its website:
What if my child has been previously diagnosed as being in the autism spectrum – will the insurance company be able to exclude coverage or deny coverage because it is a pre-existing condition?
No. Insurance companies routinely ask questions about medical history, but this law prohibits insurance companies from denying or refusing to issue health insurance coverage for any individual or their dependent because of an autism spectrum diagnosis.
Currently, around half of states have mandates regarding health insurance for autism.