Parents of autistic children are asking the legislature to force insurance companies to pay for the treatments that will give their children a more normal life.
One of them, Jenny Whitty of Kansas City is the mother of two autistic boys. "If we don’t get some help soon…we will be filing for bankruptcy," she says. She’s one of a roomful of parents who have told their stories to a Senate committee considering a proposed law that requires some insurance companies to provide some coverage for autism treatment in some employer-provided insurance policies. Some Senators already are saying that’s not strong enough—that coverage should be available in all health insurance policies.Kelli Maxwell of Independence has gotten an all-too-common response when she sought private coverage. She says she’s gotten a letter denying her family coverage because the treatments are considered experimental. "There is about thirty to forty years of evidence of how this helps these children," she says. Other companies reject coverage because they consider autism a pre-existing condition. The bill’s sponsor wonders why companies insure for treatments for Alzheimer’s and for Lou Gehrig’s disease but won’t do it for autism. Another witness has given committee members a list of 12 of the most common neurological disorders including Autism. Cerebral Palsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. She says Autism is the only disorder insurance companies refuse to cover. The insurance companies will have a chance to answer the question in next week’s hearing. The bill is SCS/SB 167