Nationally, 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with Autism – in Utah the rate is nearly double, with 1 in every 47 children falling along the autism spectrum. Autism Speaks estimates that there are over 18,500 children who live with the disorder in our state.
The key to ensuring that a child diagnosed with autism lives a healthy and productive life is early intervention and treatment. Experts close to the bill who wish to remain anonymous estimate that for every dollar of prevention spent in intervention translates to 11 dollars in treatment that is never needed down the line for families, schools, insurance providers, and the state (just to name a few).
It is for this reason that Senator Brian Shiozawa (R – Salt Lake City) is proposing SB 55 – Insurance Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The bill would require that insurance companies provide coverage for autism disorders in their health policies. To counter the fear that small businesses might drop health insurance policies altogether if the price goes up due to the mandate, Shiozawa is providing in the bill a waver system to help these employers cover the cost of any increases that will come about if the bill were to pass.
And what are those costs, exactly? Well, of the 33 states that have already enacted similar legislation, the average cost has been 15 cents per month per covered individual in the first year. After the first year, rates “balloon” to a shocking 31 cents per month per covered individual on an insurance plan. That’s right, the cost to you to ensure that your child receives proper treatment if they happen to be the 1 out of 47 that happens to be diagnosed with autism is $14.88 a year if you have a family of four.
Most people would happily pay more on their insurance premium if they knew that their child could be treated for diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, or Down syndrome. What most people don’t know is that, according to Autism Speaks, more children will be diagnosed with autism than all of the combined diseases listed above…combined.
Autism is a legitimate public health concern, and many questions still remain unanswered as to why autism strikes in the first place. What is not up for debate is that early treatment is key to helping children with autism grow up and live healthy, happy, lives. The state, too, has an interest in early intervention, as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
To contact Sen. Shiozawa, Click Here or call 801-942-2958
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill