Insurance payments for autism services rise in Missouri

A new report shows that health insurance payments for autism-related treatments in Missouri rose by more than 50 percent last year.

The state insurance department says more than 2,500 people received treatment covered by insurance for autism spectrum disorders in 2012. Insurance claims for the services increased to $6.6 million from $4.3 million the previous year.

A Missouri law that took effect in January 2011 requires health insurance companies to cover certain autism treatments.

The average policyholder receiving treatment had about $2,000 in autism services last year — far short of the $40,000 annual cap in the law.

Although autism insurance claims have risen, they still account for just a fraction of a percent of the total Missouri claims paid by health insurance companies.