North Carolina Expands Health Insurance Coverage for Autistic Children, But Some Still Not Covered

On Thursday, Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law which will expand health insurance coverage for people who are autistic.

Right now, some therapy is covered, but the new law will widen what insurance companies must pay for.

If you look at the numbers, one in every 58 kids in North Carolina is identified as having autism. That’s according to the CDC - Centers for Disease Control. But the hard reality is that not all those kids are covered under this new law.

Four year old Holden has autism. That's why he's wearing hearing protection. The loud noises at Thursday’s autism health insurance bill signing bother him more than some other children.

"Holden, like some children with autism, doesn't sleep well some nights. He's been up since 2 o'clock this morning which is why he's a little grumpy today," said Shea Capps.

Capps says the bill Governor McCrory signed into law Thursday helps some families, but not her son.

"Holden unfortunately is in one of the plans that are exempt from this coverage so it won't benefit him,” said Capps.

There are a handful of exemptions - like companies with self-funded insurance plans don't have to follow this new law - which leaves families like the Capps between a rock and a hard place.

"I'm considering going back to work and using the insurance policy through another company that would be part of this coverage. Then we could pay for his therapy. Otherwise, we'll have to move to another state," said Capps.

But for those the new law does help, autism expert Doctor Chris Magryta says it will expand coverage for speech therapy along with occupational and physical therapy.

"The therapist can say we still need more services. The insurance company can say you're capped at five. Now, after this government mandate, they're going to have a much higher volume of visits that they're able to get to for these kids," said Dr. Magryta.

He says this will help keep more money in family's pockets and less work on their plate.

"It is impossible to have a full time job, come home, trying to be the therapist, trying to be the parent. Taking the most off the parent's plate is brilliant for respite for them," said Dr. Magryta.

The new law goes into effect this July.

North Carolina is the 43rd state to sign a bill into law expanding health insurance coverage for people with autism.