Parents talk about how Affordable Care Act could affect children with autism

Local residents begin enrolling in Affordable Care Act

ABILENE, Texas - One group that will be now be able to purchase low-cost health care because of the Affordable Care Act are those with pre-existing conditions such as autism.

Job based and individual health insurance plans can no longer deny or limit coverage to those under 19 even if they have a pre-existing condition such as autism. And starting in 2014, coverage will be extended to people of all ages.

Keri Meuth's daughter Addison is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.

Meuth said most of all she wants her daughter to "live the most normal life that she can possibly have and just be herself, just be happy."

Meuth said physical and occupational therapy is crucial for kids like Addison.

"If they get the therapy and the services that they need they can get a big gain on life," Meuth said. 

But therapy is expensive and it's not all covered by Meuth's health care plan. She said she is always worried about unexpected costs. She thinks the affordable care act could take some of the weight off her shoulders.

"Knowing that we wouldn't have to save every dime and penny probably would be nice," said Meuth.

Meuth isn't alone.

"We have some families that say I know we need 30 to 33 hours I can only afford three hours a month," said Amanda Fullbright, Gulf Coast regional director for Butterfly Effects, an organization that provides services to families of kids who have autism and other disabilities.

Jamie Thomas has a three year-old with autism. She said she already has two health care providers, but neither of them covers ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis therapy. Her child has to do without.

"I get frustrated every day. I get frustrated and I think, ‘maybe I can Google how to be an ABA therapist,' but it doesn't work," said Thomas.

The Affordable Care Act will not cover ABA either and that's why Thomas said it's not enough.   

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