The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will go into operation in 2014 with public enrollment scheduled to start in October 2013. Enacted in 2010, the ACA could have profound impacts on insurance coverage for autism benefits. The ACA provides individual and small group (fewer than 50 employees) coverage through state-level health benefit exchanges.
Since 2007, Autism Speaks has succeeded at the state level with grassroots partners in enacting autism insurance reform laws in a majority of states --33-- with the goal of ending marketplace discrimination on the basis of an autism diagnosis. Passage of these laws, which cover state-regulated health plans, is a critical first step. True autism insurance reform will demand a federal response requiring all types of health plans to cover autism treatments, including the new ACA health plans and self-insured (ERISA) health plans.
Autism Speaks is monitoring the state-by-state implementation of the new ACA health benefit exchanges for their coverage of autism benefits, including behavioral health treatment. Autism Speaks will continue the fight to assure that behavioral health treatments are part of all health insurance plans.