Lorri Unumb: BCBS must provide ABA coverage for autism

July 17, 2014 

I am a law professor and a parent of a child with autism. I live in South Carolina, a state that requires health insurance to cover autism treatments – including Applied Behavior Analysis – when prescribed by a doctor.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina continues to assert that ABA treatment is “educational” and thus inappropriate for health insurance coverage. This is a specious argument that simply defies logic.

Autism is diagnosed by a doctor, not a school principal. Treatment is prescribed by a doctor, not a teacher. Here are some things autism families deal with daily: swallowing aggression, teeth grinding, feces eating, depression, tantrum, drooling, elective mutism, food refusal, food theft, genital stimulation, hallucinations, hyperactive behavior, hyperventilation, inappropriate vocalizations, insomnia, public disrobing, rectal digging, seizure behavior, self-injurious behavior, tongue protrusion and vomiting.

Does anyone think these should be treated in our school classrooms?

BCBS covers ABA treatment in 37 states. For BCBS of North Carolina to continue to say that ABA is “educational” shows a lack of understanding of autism and ABA or worse.

Lorri Unum, Vice president, State Government Affairs, Autism Speaks, Lexington, S.C.

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