Hawaii one of 18 states not requiring health insurance coverage for autism treatment

Published On: Jul 14 2012 07:06:34 PM HST

Advocates for the autistic are renewing their campaign to win health insurance coverage for children.

Ryan Edghill-Pearson, 4, is a happy child with a bubbly personality that masks a serious condition impairing the child's ability to communicate and function.
The young boy is autistic and he is not alone.
Experts said nationally 1 in 88 children are born with autism.

"But what is so frustrating, is that he has a medical condition that health insurers don't want to cover," said Ryan's mother, Janet Edghill-Pearson.

Edghill-Pearson pays $2,500 a month for 10 hours of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for her son.
The mother of four said her youngest son needs more intensive one-on-one coaching, without it his chances of overcoming autism are dramatically decreased.

Autism Speaks spokeswoman Lorri Unumb lobbied Hawaii lawmakers this week, encouraging them to revive a bill requiring health insurance companies pay for autism treatment.
Unumb says 32 other states already mandate the coverage, which she said costs insurance customers an average of 31 cents a month.

"They are paying premiums every month for health insurance but are not getting the benefit, so it's not only to alleviate the financial stress on the families, it's also to right an injustice," said Unumb.

Ryan's therapist told KITV his speech is improving, today he understands double the number of words he did three months ago.

"There are people losing their homes, they are going into bankruptcy to get a treatment that they know will work for their children," said Janet Edghill-Pearson.

The Senate bill passed into the House earlier this year where it died.

Rep. Ryan Yamane and chair of the health committee, says cost concerns stalled the bill.

Unumb said there is already a commitment by state senators to reintroduce the bill in the 2013 legislative session.

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