For years, autism activists have been working with state legislatures to require insurance companies to provide covered care for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and other autism treatments. Big strides were made with Obamacare, with 29 states in the Health Insurance Marketplace now covering ABA as an Essential Health Benefit. This allows residents of 29 states in the U.S. to choose plans that best address their autism treatment needs.

ABA treatment should be available, affordable and accessible to residents of all 50 states, however. That’s why the recent news from major insurance provider UnitedHealthcare is so important. Beginning in 2017, UnitedHealthcare will offer ABA coverage as part of its standard benefits package for all insurance holders, regardless of whether they happen to live in one of the 29 states that have passed the autism insurance mandate.

United already covers ABA treatment for fully insured group members in the mandated states, and for those who elect it under self-funded plans. Beginning next year, the universal coverage of ABA treatment will make autism treatments much more affordable and accessible to a huge demographic of the population, regardless of what state they live in. This is a huge step forward in the democratization of autism treatment. With the country’s biggest insurance provider making this important statement about equal access to autism treatment, we can hope to see other insurance companies follow suit in the near future. There is a new precedent for autism treatment being established as we speak.

This news signals a turning point in the public discussion of autism. By normalizing treatment for this common disability, we can begin to work toward more effective solutions for more people on the spectrum. I am elated to share UnitedHealthcare’s ABA coverage news, and I look forward to it helping more people get the right insurance to access proper treatment and services. Families looking to choose the right insurance plan can start by visiting theMental Health & Autism Insurance Project guide for helpful information on different options and benefits.

SAILS Group and Patterns, our ABA company, often work hand in hand with customizing this type of autism care for individuals and families. We look forward as an organization to facilitating rehabilitation and treatment for people across the country, in all 50 states, who need a helping hand in caring for those living with autism.