Image via Wikipedia
MICHIGAN – Thousands of Michigan families are struggling to pay for autism treatment, since it’s not technically covered by insurance.
It’s an issue the State Senate has paid attention to, holding a series of public hearings throughout the state on a potential law that could change autism coverage. The last of those hearings was in Lansing Tuesday.
The treatment of autism is expensive, those Newschannel 3 spoke with on Tuesday say dealing with an autistic child can cost parents upwards of $50,000.
“I end up having to pay out of pocket for other services that my son needs,” said Tina Robbins, “and I have to pick and choose which ones I can afford.”
Robbins’ son has struggled with autism while she’s struggled with the expense. Her son is one of 15,000 children in Michigan dealing with the disease and the fact that it’s not covered by insurance.
“I work full time,” said Robbins, “and it’s difficult to take money out of my budget specifically for health care related things I feel should be covered by my insurance.”
A grassroots effort dubbed ‘Autism Insurance in Michigan’ is currently lobbying the State Senate to sign off on laws that would get autism treatment covered by insurance companies in Michigan, things such as diagnosis and treatment for children and adults, regardless of age.
Richard Malott, a professor at Western Michigan University, has researched autism and trains therapists at WMU. He admits the expense has hindered treatment for some.
“Generally early intervention has been for rich folks,” said Professor Malmott, “regular people have a hard time.”
Malmott does say that treatment can work.
“I don’t want to suggest it’s always a cure by any matter of means,” said Malmott, “but I would say essentially every time people use early intensive behavioral attention with these children, significant progress is made.”
Robbins says she’s used both paid and free services in the treatment of her son, but she knows many Michigan families aren’t as fortunate.
“Not everybody has access to those services at a discounted rate,” said Robbins.