Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ryan's Bill: Austism Insurance Bill Passes

We focus so much on global health in this blog it is easy to miss sight of those underserved closer to home. South Carolina resident Lorri Unumb can celebrate a small victory towards raising her son Ryan, who has autism. It turns out that most insurance companies won't cover autism therapy. This is ludicrous---you get hurt in a car wreck and you can go get physical therapy to get your walking muscle memory back. You suffer some sort of mental impairment and it's considered "educational therapy". Well, thanks to Unumb, insurers in South Carolina can no longer take cover behind this logic.

"I've met so many other moms who were doing the best they could, and I just wanted to say to them, 'You know, an hour a week of speech therapy for your child is never going to make him better,' " the mother of three says.

"But I didn't want to tell them what they needed is 40 hours a week of therapy, because there's nothing they can do to buy that."

Nothing they can do because most medical insurance policies generally don't cover autism treatment, and it's too expensive for many parents to afford out of pocket. Ryan's therapy costs between $70,000 and $80,000 a year. That's Lorri Unumb's entire salary.

Well, it didn't hurt that Lorri Unumb is both a lawyer and a law professor. She soon turned a sour situation into a solution that helps her family countless others. Professor Unumb, way to go!

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