Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Military Families Lack Health Coverage for Autism

For reasons no one can explain, autism is diagnosed among the children of military families at nearly double the national rate -- 1 in 88 compared with the national estimate of 1 in 150. And according to an article in U.S. News & World Report, the military's health system is failing these families.

Check out these numbers -- 13,243 of the estimated 1.2 million children of active-duty military personnel have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. But only 1,374 (10 percent of these children) are qualified to receive treatment under the extended care arm of the federal health care program TRICARE. One problem is the TRICARE system (like many other health care plans) classifies intensive therapy like ABA as "education" rather than a medical necessity. In the article, Stuart Spielman, senior policy adviser for Autism Speaks, says, "Think about the extraordinary sacrifices that military families make. If we're asking someone to risk his or her life in Iraq or Afghanistan, do we not have an obligation to help their families?"

Read the article, "Military Parents Battle the System to Help Their Autistic Children."
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