Lifted insurance restrictions improve lives of children with aut - - Jackson, MS

Lifted insurance restrictions improve lives of children with autism

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

During Applied Behavioral Analysis Day at the Capitol Tuesday, elected officials made an announcement that will improve the lives of children with autism.

Lifted insurance restrictions are enabling children to have continued access to programs that enhance their ability to communicate and interact.

"My concerns were 'where are we gonna continue therapy? Do I need to look at out of state'," asked Jessica McLaurin, whose son has Autism.

Ian is seven-years-old and undergoes daily therapy.

McLaurin would have had one year to figure out the future for her son's therapy if the law had not just changed.

Insurance companies offered the coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis or therapy until age eight.

That cap has now been lifted through an agreement made by the Mississippi Insurance Department and three insurance carriers.

"He's made significant progress," said McLaurin. "We've been doing therapy for the last three years, and he's gone from minimum words to being able to engage in more conversations and be very active in other social settings."

Before the change, the financial burden for therapy was up to $2,500 per month for children over eight years old.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare of Mississippi and Magnolia Health voluntarily agreed to lift the age cap with no additional charge.

"It's so unusual to see private enterprise step in with the public sector and do something positive without charging citizens and that's what happened today," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Lynda Balfour was denied therapy coverage for her son Michael just last week.

Michael turned nine-years-old Tuesday.

This extension of coverage is a sigh of relief for the Madison mom.

"We started when he was seven and half," said Balfour. "So it's a wonderful thing for us to continue the therapy."

Mississippi is now one of 46 states that has passed health insurance laws extending the coverage of children with autism.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney also announced that his is offering two new resources for those diagnosed with autism.

There is a new Autism Hotline that can be reached at 1-833-488-6472 and an Autism Insurance Resources website.

Officials with the Insurance Department say they are designed to help with issues related to claiming health insurance benefits for screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism.

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