Illinois: Autism Should be Covered by Insurance

Autism is a complex disorder.  Not only is it unclear exactly what causes it, it also manifests itself differently in each individual with the diagnosis.  In addition, like many other diseases and disorders, there are varying degrees of autism, from “high functioning” to the other end of the spectrum where individuals have severe symptoms that take a tremendous amount of time and effort to work with, often without yielding a tremendous amount of results or improvement.  As a result, autism remains poorly understood and has cost many thousands of families their life savings.

The Governor of one state – the state of Illinois – wants to do something about that.  To try to help families get diagnosis and treatment for family members with autism – especially their children – Governor Blagojevich is asking insurance companies to cover children with autism up to $36,000 in benefits per year and provide for unlimited office visits until they reach age 21.

The Governor, who stated that 26,000 children have been diagnosed with autism in his state of Illinois, made it clear that he felt that it was important to help families who were doing what they were supposed to do.  When a family is working hard, paying taxes and paying for insurance, it is inequitable that they could lose everything because the insurance they are paying for will not cover their children when dealing with a devastating disease such as autism.  Currently it is only possible for some families to get limited coverage through very large group policies.  Therefore, if a family has an individual policy or most smaller group policies, most or all of their expenses for autism diagnosis and treatment end up being out-of-pocket costs that have them mortgage their homes, depleting their savings, and ransacking their retirement plans – even though they are paying for insurance coverage every month!

The steps that Illinois is taking to try to address this issue are steps that will hopefully lead other states – and the country – into helping all families dealing with the effects of autism in their lives. 

Entry Filed under: Common Symptoms

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