Thousands of parents made the trek to the State Capital building many times over the past couple of months. They attended the announcement, committee and floor votes for Clay’s Law. Just what was this landmark proposal? During the past legislative session parents were hoping to get financial relief for treating their Autistic child. What we they asking for? Large grants for experimental treatment methods? No. Did they want a free gift from taxpayers for unproven therapies? Nope. Parents just wanted their insurance companies to provide coverage for early intensive behavioral intervention for children with Autism. Interventions that were already known to be the most effective methods to help these affected children.
But, the costs would way too much for policy holders that may never need these services, opponents claimed. This proposal would have resulted in a less than 1% increase in insurance premiums. The ‘big money’ fact to consider is this: Untreated autism is estimated to cost approximately $3 million over the person’s lifetime. Intensive early behavioral intervention, the type covered by the bill, can cut this down by $1 million. That means the bill could pay for itself with the savings from just three or four children. With 1 of 79 boys in Utah receiving an Autism diagnosis the long term savings would have been tremendous.
So what will they be getting? An option to purchase a ‘rider’ type of policy before the child reaches 3 months of age. Not much help because of the fact that the average ‘severely’ Autistic child is not diagnosed until 18 – 24 months. What about the parents of children who already have an Autism diagnosis? Nothing. Chalk up another one for the insurance companies who seem to be better at taking care of themselves lately.