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Insurance Coverage for Autism Treatment Results in More Individuals Getting Services

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    Four years after landmark legislation in Missouri mandated insurance coverage of treatments for autism, thousands more are getting care.

4 year old Ashley says ‘up please' now, but  just three months ago she was spinning in a corner.

Her mom Shelley Holland says, “We need help!  That was our thoughts. We don't know what to do. We're having this problem, that problem.  She hates baths. She loves baths. We go back and forth. So it's really helpful  to have something, somebody to go to bounce ideas off, things like that."

 Ashley's  one on one  treatment at the Bill and Virginia Leffen center for autism is affordable  only because of  mandatory insurance coverage.   

 Shelley says,  "I had to get approved for a certain amount of hours a week she can come.  She comes  twenty hours a week. So they pay  the big portion  and I just cover the co pay."

Kristy Parker, clinical director at the Leffen center says of the cost,  "Thousands of dollars a week. It would be unobtainable for most families."

Everything from diagnosis to assessment to treatment is now covered for the insured from birth to age 21, so the center has added  more outpatient programs.

Parker says, "Each year we've added  several ABA (Applied Behavioral Analyst)  implementers to our staff to cover the needs of request we've been receiving."

Ashley's been in treatment only three months but has made significant progress.

Shelley says, "She's made so much progress. Her language has increased. She's listening a lot better. It's just awesome for her."

And after nearly four years of not speaking, Ashley said her first sentence last week.

It's development parker says is still not available to all families children because treatment still isn't covered by Medicaid. 

Parker says the center gets, "Five to seven  calls a week looking into whether or not they have  service  and maybe a third are covered.

 They're already trying so hard to  help their child communicate and socialize and navigate this world.

Thats incrThat'sy frustrating for families to know that there's help available that they can't access it and that's just a horrible  thing to have to tell a family."

Especially when its proven to be effective like it has been with Ashley.

Certified behavioral analysts who design patient's treatment programs  have grown in number  locally from two to ten and statewide from 19 to 280 because of the mandated coverage.

 Insurance claims for autism related treatment totaled about ten million dollars in 2014 in Missouri.

 That's a small part of the more than four point seven billion dollars in Missouri insurance claims.

  For a  link to the complete autism insurance click here.

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