Hope Network applauds Snyders support of autism insurance coverage

September 18, 2011
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Hope Network joins the Autism Alliance of Michigan in thanking Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley for their public support for Senate Bills 414 and 415. Passage of these bills would reform insurance coverage for individuals with autism spectrum disorder in Michigan to cover evidence-based practice diagnosis and treatment of this developmental disability.

Covering individuals with ASD with research-based and proven treatments is absolutely looking at the longer-term perspective for an improved quality of life and being fiscally responsible over the trajectory of the individual’s lifespan.

These bills would allow children to have necessary treatments that will improve their chances for greater independence later in life. As a result of earlier treatment, it can be assumed that the burden on long-term care costs, which is estimated at over $3 million over an individual’s lifetime, will decrease due to their decreased dependence on the system.

Passing this insurance reform will better align autism spectrum disorder with other long-term and chronic illnesses already covered, without penalty for the nature of the disability.

Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong neuro-developmental disability; however, years of viable research confirms that individuals with ASD can and do improve with appropriate, targeted interventions that are not readily accessible or available today.

Here are some ASD facts to consider in regard to passage of these bills:

  • Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 110 children, including one in 70 boys.

  • There are 15,000 known cases of Michigan children that suffer from ASD.

  • There is no known cause or cure for autism, but research into the disorder continue

  • The average cost for an individual suffering from autism, throughout their lifetime, is $3.7 million.

  • Half of those diagnosed children that receive early intervention can reach normal function and another 40 percent show significant improvement

A recent survey conducted by Autism Speaks ranked Michigan as one of the worst 10 states to raise a child with autism as it lacks insurance coverage, and options for treatment are difficult to find. As a result, many families leave the state to find assistance elsewhere.

  • Economically, Michigan has the opportunity to save taxpayers $13 billion by requiring insurance coverage for evidence-based therapies. Yet the premium impact is less than 1 percent.

The cost burden for autism spectrum disorder can be lessened by early intervention. There are two Senate bills currently in the legislature that address the coverage of autism: SB 414 and 415. Each of these bills has 15 co-sponsors.

It is time for Michigan to join the other 27 states across the nation that offer such coverage and embrace the ability to provide services to those most vulnerable.

Phil Weaver is president and CEO of Hope Network.

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