BCBS of Michigan to Provide Insurance Coverage for Autism Therapy
A federal court in Detroit has approved a class action settlement which will mandate that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will provide insurance coverage for a treatment known as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for children with autism.
The settlement specifically requires that children who received the therapy at the Beaumont “GIFT” program between March 2003 and June 2009 will receive reimbursement for costs spent by families. The payments must be made within 14 days.
Applied behavior analysis is a treatment approach that is endorsed by the US Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics, however not all state insurance plans provide coverage for services. The term “applied” means practice (rather than research) and “behavior analysis” is an understanding learning of new skills.
Most developing children learn without much intervention – their environment provides many opportunities to learn skills such as language and social skills. However, those with autism cannot use their surroundings and apply the knowledge to their own achievement of new skills. Autistic children need an optimized and structured environment, which is the basis for ABA.
The therapy originates American psychologist Burrhus Frederic (BF) Skinner who introduced the concept of behavioral reinforcement. Skinner suggests that any age-appropriate skill can be taught by using five principles: Give the learner immediate feedback; break down the task into small steps; repeat the directions as many times as possible; work from the most simple to the most complex tasks; and give positive reinforcement.
Applied behavior analysis has been used in other settings besides autism spectrum disorders. It has contributed to AIDS prevention, health and exercise, language acquisition, parenting, and even the management and care of animals in zoos.