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Autism Insurance Reform

February 21, 2014, 6:05 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Autism Insurance Reform
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

This exercise may seem simple, but five-year-old Katelyn Reuter's mom says it's made a huge difference. Katelyn gets 30 hours a week of applied behavior analysis. She was diagnosed with severe Autism when she was two.

"Not responding to her name was the biggest thing," Katelyn's mother, Crystal Reuter said.

Reuter has kept videos to show her daughter's progress. At two and a half years old, Katelyn knew only a few words.

"She had two or less words, and they weren't even used the way they should been used," Crystal said.

With many different therapy options and a wide range of Autism disorders, many insurance companies don't cover all therapies.

"We use scientifically-validated studies to determine what is and isn't covered, and that's typically what's done in the insurance industry in general," Sanford Health Plan President Ruth Krystolpolski said.

Sanford Health Plan President Ruth Krystolpolski also says a health insurance carrier first has to determine whether a therapy is medical in nature or educational. The difference can mean some companies don't cover Autism treatment at all.

"I wish we had the capacity and ability to cover everything, but we also have to have insurance premiums that are affordable to all individuals, so there have to be some lines that are drawn," Krystolpolski said.

But Reuter says other states that have had Autism insurance reform haven't seen a big increase in healthcare costs.

"Only 31-cents per consumer and this will also decrease the cost of special education," Crystal said.

Reuter says she'd like to see more families with children with Autism be able to afford services like this.

"She talks. She makes eye contact. She goes to the bathroom by herself. She takes a bath by herself. There are things that if this treatment wasn't given, these children may not do," Crystal said.

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