February 07, 2011

Department of Insurance offers guidance on Missouri's new autism law

Resources available for parents, health care providers

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance is reaching out to parents of autistic children, health care providers and others to provide education about the new state law requiring coverage for autism therapies. In 2010, Gov. Nixon signed House Bill 1311, which requires health insurance companies to cover applied behavior analysis, the best known treatment for autism spectrum disorder.

Experts from the department on Feb. 5 presented information to a group of stakeholders in Jefferson City that included parents, health care providers, autism advocacy groups and others.

Also recently, the department unveiled a new section of its website, insurance.mo.gov, dedicated to the new law. Included are:

  • Link to the language of the new law
  • A 30-question FAQ providing information on treatments required, health plans affected, definitions, provisions of the new law, eligibility for reimbursement and what to do if claims are denied
  • A parent resource center, including a step-by-step guide to making sure treatments are covered by health insurance
  • A provider resource center for health care professionals that includes explanations from Missouri's major health insurers on their procedures for covering autism therapies
  • Regulatory guidance for health insurance companies to stay compliant with the new law

"With these Web-based resources, Missouri is providing extensive consumer and provider education, to see that the new law is implemented efficiently and effectively," said state Insurance Director John M. Huff. "With the legislative process complete, it now falls to regulators, insurers and others to make sure Missouri consumers get the protection they're entitled to."

Teams from Huff's department have spent much of the past six months on preparation for and education on the new law. Those efforts included the formation of an Autism Working Group consisting of providers, parents, advocates and insurers. In December, the department's Behavior Analyst Advisory Board began licensing behavior analysts. These professionals provide applied behavior analysis therapy to children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and must be licensed under the new law.

Consumers and providers with questions about the new law or complaints can call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.