Is autism a covered insurance benefit? New Jimmy Patronis website provides information

Financial director Jimmy Patronis launched a new one-stop resource for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders on Wednesday and released a proclamation recognize April as World Autism Month.

The new website aims to improve interactions between insurance companies and their policyholders affected by autism spectrum disorders with a one-stop-shop for insurance information.

“It’s essential that Floridians know what kind of resources are available and my goal in launching this new site is to provide consumers with insurance information and tips to make life a little less difficult,” Patronis said in a prepared statement announcing the new website and proclamation.

People can browse the site to find out if their health insurance policy is required by state law to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorders. The site also provides an explanation of federal mental health parity laws and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on autism spectrum disorder coverage.

Christa Stevensdirector of state government affairs at the advocacy group Autism Speaks, thanked Patronis and the Consumer Resources Division for developing the site.

“Health insurance is very complex and navigating the system places heavy demands on even the most knowledgeable and educated consumers,” she said in a prepared statement.

autism speaks defines autism spectrum disorder as “a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges related to social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 44 children in the United States had autism in 2018. Autism is reported in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups and is more than 4 times more common in boys than in girls.

While the new Patronis website focuses on autism information, it also includes information for insured clients about behavioral health care services and whether their health insurance policy is needed to cover the service.

Meanwhile, the Agency for Health Care Administration held a meeting Friday on proposed changes to Medicaid rules and coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, which is the therapy provided to people with autism.

The state is proposing to limit where Medicaid-covered ABA therapies can be provided and also to require school children to have individualized education plans to qualify for therapy at school. Suppliers said that these, and other changes, would hurt autistic children.

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Edwin S. Wolfe