The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), enacted in 2010, could have profound impacts on insurance coverage for autism benefits. While families caring for a child with autism often have health insurance, most of these plans explicitly exclude coverage of the treatments their child needs. Since 2007, Autism Speaks has succeeded at the state level with grassroots partners in enacting autism insurance reform laws in a majority of states --32-- with the goal of ending marketplace discrimination on the basis of an autism diagnosis. Passage of these state-by-state laws is a critical first step. True autism insurance reform will demand a federal response requiring all types of health plans to cover autism treatments.
Autism Speaks worked very hard to include language in the federal health care reform legislation while it was before Congress to address the insurance inequities many families have endured for decades. As federal regulators begin phasing in the PPACA, Autism Speaks will continue the fight to assure that behavioral health treatments are part of the essential health benefits that must be included in certain health plans.