New bill mandates coverage of therapy for autistic children

Posted September 29, 2015
Updated September 30, 2015

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— Parents of children with autism will soon receive much needed help paying for treatment.

Lawmakers passed a bill in the state House Monday that would require insurance companies to cover certain treatments for autism patients. The Senate approved the bill on Tuesday, and it will now be sent to Gov. Pat McCrory.

An estimated 65,000 people in North Carolina have been diagnosed with autism, roughly one out of 59 individuals in North Carolina.

The bill will help families, but insurance experts say the cost will have to be covered.

Becky and Ryan Webb homeschool their son Ryan Jr., who suffers from autism and needs visual support for everything he learns.

“He works best in a one-on-one environment,” Becky Webb said.

When Ryan isn’t learning at home, he’s learning at therapy, but the family had to cut back on therapy services due to the cost.

The new bill, which mandates insurance companies to pay for certain treatments of autism, will help families like the Webb’s.

“It was over 10,000 out of pocket just last year alone,” Webb said. “We’re just excited for some assistance for our family to get some coverage that our son deserves.”

Under the bill, families can receive up to 40,000 in coverage for children through their 18th birthday.

Aubie Knight, CEO for the North Carolina Association of Insurance Agents, said anyone with the health insurance will pay more to cover the cost of the mandate.

“The insurance company doesn’t absorb those increased costs,” Knight said. “The actuaries are going to figure out how much of that increased cost is going to be passed on to the consumer in terms of rate incensement.”

For the Webb family, the investment is worth it.

“This is a great day—a great thing for families in NC affected by autism,” Webb said.

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  • Susan West Sep 29, 2015
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    Well, if the insurance companies pay for the vaccines that can cause the problems and not pay for the genetic testing prior to vaccination that would pinpoint if a genetic mutation would contribute to vaccine complications, then they can pay for the treatment caused by some vaccine injuries. We've got sensory processing disorder, retained infantile reflexes, midline problems, occular and vestibular integration issues, and serious fine motor delays and gross motor delays caused by serious reactions to his infant vaccines and are headed towards an autism spectrum screening for our son. What's not covered is any kind optometry treatment that would help with his occular and vestibular problems. I can't believe we have an autism rate in this state of 1 in 59. We need a story on THAT.