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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Citizen and State Ideology Determine Generosity of Autism Insurance Mandates

Needed treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be costly, and historically insurance companies have refused to pay for care for those with ASD even though federal laws require states to meet certain thresholds regarding insurance coverage. Through the efforts of ASD advocates over the past two decades, states have enacted mandates that insurers include coverage for those with ASD.

In a recently published study, Dr. Timothy Callaghan, assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, analyzed why some states passed more generous insurance mandates than others, opening eligibility for benefits to more or fewer children with ASD. The study analyzed every ASD insurance mandate passed in the U.S. from 2000-2017.

“When controlling for a variety of different factors, we found that citizen ideology and the ideology of state politicians determine how generous states tend to be regarding insurance mandates. States that tend to be run by more liberal legislatures and states with more liberal citizenries are more likely to enact generous insurance mandates, which allow more children to access more health benefits if they have autism.”

While there is consensus that Applied Behavior Analysis and other clinical therapies are helpful in producing better outcomes for children with autism, many insurers continue to argue that behavioral treatments are not medically necessary. Because policy drastically affects the amount of access people have to health care, Dr. Callaghan stressed the importance of studying these mandates to further analyze their effectiveness.