Is autism a covered insurance benefit? New Jimmy Patronis website provides insights

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis on Wednesday launched a new one-stop resource for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder and issued a proclamation recognizing April as World Autism Month.

The new website aims to improve interactions between insurance companies and their policyholders who are impacted by autism spectrum disorder with a one-stop shop of insurance information.

“It’s critical for Floridians to know what type of resources are available and my goal in launching this new site is to provide consumers with insurance information and tips to make life a little less challenging,” Patronis said in a prepared statement announcing the new website and the proclamation.

People can peruse the site to discover whether their health insurance policy is required by state law to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorder. The site also provides an explanation of federal mental health parity laws and how the Affordable Care Act impacts coverage for autism spectrum disorder.

Christa Stevensdirector of state government affairs at the advocacy group, Autism Speaks, thanked Patronis and the Division of Consumer Resources for developing the site.

“Health insurance is very complex and navigating the system puts heavy demands on even the most knowledgeable and educated consumers,” she said in a prepared statement.

Autism Speaks defines autism spectrum disorder as the “broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 44 children in the United States had autism in 2018. Autism is reported in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups and is more than 4 times more common to be found among boys than girls.

While Patronis’ new website focuses on information about autism, it also includes information for insured customers about behavioral health care services and whether their health insurance policy is required to cover the service.

Meanwhile, the Agency for Health Care Administration held a meeting Friday on proposed changes to Medicaid rules and the coverage of applied behavioral analysis or ABA, which is the therapy provided to people with autism.

The state is proposing to limit the locations where Medicaid-covered ABA therapies can be provided and to also require school children to have individualized education plans to qualify for the therapy while at school. Providers said those, and other changes, would hurt children with autism.


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