Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Insurance companies and expensive therapy for autism; vaccine controversy

On Monday March 24 ABC News reported on a controversial law in Arizona requiring health insurance companies to reimburse parents for claims for an intensive and very expensive new behavioral treatment for autism. The story is "Insurance vs. Autism: For Parents, Insurance Is a Personal Fight; Insurance Companies Struggle, Parents Sacrifice to Cover Expensive Behavioral Therapy," by John Donovan, link here. The article has a link to allow visitor to check for the laws in their own state.

The story views this as controversial because of the extreme expense born by all insurance company subscribers (often employers). However, it is pointed out that the therapy may spare the person a lifetime of care and actually "save" money. In "spiritual" terms, these both sound like "utilitarian" arguments.

There is still a lot of controversy over vaccines, and some claims that mercury in some vaccines could have caused the increase in autism. I talked about this recently on my film blog, here. The medical establishment still does not accept this theory. The statement by the Centers for Disease Control on Autism and Thimerosal is here. However, some parents (in some states) are skipping vaccines, which some authorities say gradually endangers public health and re-emergence of old infections by reducing "herd immunity." For example, measles could return, and measles sometimes causes neurological damage requiring special needs. I had measles at age seven and it may have affected by motor coordination skills as a boy and teen (measles can cause subtle neurological impairments). Had a vaccine been available in 1950, the course of my life could have been quite different, with much easier adaptation to certain demands of boys (athletic, social) at school.

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