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UnitedHealth to cover autism therapy
UnitedHealth will begin immediately covering behavioral therapy for autism in California, known as applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Under an agreement reached Monday between California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, UnitedHealth will maintain an adequate provider network, follow provider orders for treatment specifications and create a dedicated customer service unit that can handle inquiries about the ABA therapy, reported the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.
Jones already has reached similar agreements with Blue Shield of California, Health Net and Cigna to provide ABA and other behavioral health treatments, according to the Insurance & Financial Advisor. "We are pleased UnitedHealthcare joins four other insurers in fulfilling its responsibility to provide this necessary and vital treatment to the state's thousands of autistic children" Jones said.
All of these deals have resulted after Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) signed S.B. 946 last fall, which requires all insurers cover ABA for autism and similar disorders by July 1. However, the legislation only requires ABA coverage through 2014, reported the Sacramento Business Journal.
The California Association of Health Plan says that, despite these recent settlements with state regulators, insurers still believe that ABA is an educational rather than a medical approach to treating autism.
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