US state North Carolina has signed the autism health insurance coverage act into law, in a bid to expand insurance coverage for patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The new law includes qualifying health benefit plans that will offer coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of ASD, including adaptive behavioral treatment and other intensive one-to-one therapies.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said: "The families and caregivers of those with autism need every tool we can provide to get their loved ones treatment.
"This new law is not a silver bullet, but for many North Carolina families, it is a huge step in the right direction."
The governor has thanked parents, advocacy groups and the general assembly for their bipartisan support in making the new law.
ASD is claimed to be the second most common developmental disability that is more common than childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis combined.
One out of every 68 children is expected to have some form of ASD in the US, while the evidence suggests the rate in North Carolina is one in 58.
Autism spectrum is said to describe a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders in the fifth revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5).
Published in 2013, the DSM-5, redefined the autism spectrum to encompass the previous (DSM-IV-TR) diagnoses of autism, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s disorder and childhood disintegrative disorder.
The disorders are characterized by social deficits and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues, and in some cases, cognitive delays.
Image: North Carolina governor Pat McCrory has signed the autism health insurance coverage act into law. Photo: courtesy of North Carolina Office of the Governor.