A tactic used by insurance companies to deny expensive behavioral
therapy to autistic children has been deemed illegal by a Los Angeles
In a preliminary ruling, Los Angeles County Superior
Court Judge James C. Chalfant found that Kaiser Permanente's refusal to
pay for a child's autism treatment because the provider was not
licensed by the state runs counter to California's Mental Health Parity
Act. That act requires insurers to cover care for mental and behavioral
problems at the same levels they do for physical illnesses.
Here is the full account. Three different (but not unrelated) takes on this story are:
1. Whatever you think of occupational licensing, as a matter of social status it seems odd to apply it to dog doctors, or for that matter toilet and sink doctors (i.e., plumbers), but not to those who treat autistic children.
2. These treatments can cost $50,000 a year or more and there is little reliable RCT evidence that they actually work.
3. Yesterday I saw two separate television ads, on two separate channels, campaigning for the Virginia State legislature on the grounds that one's opponent had opposed mandatory insurance coverage for autism treatments. The ads simply take it for granted that such coverage would be a good thing. (Rest assured I do not usually watch TV, or its commercials, but the first was in a restaurant at Eden Center and as for the second it was the first day of the NBA season.)