That's unconscionable, given that Utah is considered to have one of the highest, if not the highest, rates of autism in the country and that Applied Behavioral Analysis treatment, while effective, is prohibitively expensive for families.
Among the large companies affected by the self-insurance loophole is Intermountain Healthcare, which, ironically, markets autism care at its hospitals, provided by its doctors. But the health insurance side of the company doesn't cover those services for Intermountain's 33,000 employees.
These loopholes should be eliminated. All children, not only those whose parents have a particular type of insurance coverage or are lucky enough to win the lottery set up by the state to cover a few children, deserve care.
To their credit, the University of Utah and its hospitals and clinics are considering adding autism coverage before the legislated mandate requires it. Some large companies in Utah already provide limited or complete coverage for their employees and families.
Intermountain Healthcare and Deseret Mutual, the health plan for employees of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and others not required to cover autism therapy, should follow their lead. Children of their employees are no less deserving or in need than those fortunate enough to have the benefit.
Cost is not a valid argument against making the change. The 34 states that require autism coverage report the per-member, per-month premium cost was 15 cents the first year and 31 cents the second year, according to the national group, Autism Speaks.
That's little enough to give children a chance to live happy, productive lives.