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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma Announces Autism Benefits

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

TULSA, Okla., Dec. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma announced today the addition of an autism benefit to insured groups effective their next policy year. This change will not in any way affect the current medical coverage that has always been available to children with autism. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is responding to market interests in the benefits and coverage of certain autism-related medically necessary services.


"We want to commend the Oklahoma Legislature for allowing the market to work," said Bev Binkowski, director, public affairs. "Rather than having a 'one-size-fits-all' mandate for all companies, we have been able to develop a benefit to meet the needs of our members."


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma will provide "a clinically reasonable benefit that doesn't unduly create a price impact on small employer groups and affect their ability to provide health care coverage to their employees," said Dr. Joe Nicholson, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma's chief medical officer and vice president of health care management. Benefit enhancements are expected to include evaluation and management procedures, speech, physical and occupational therapies. The health plan is targeting a January 2010 implementation date for this new benefit.


"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has been able to develop a benefit that won't dramatically increase premiums," Binkowski said. "This decreases the likelihood that the increased benefit will result in employers dropping coverage and adding to the state's uninsured population."


"This action will allow us to provide a benefit for proven therapeutic services while research continues to identify effective treatments or medical solutions for children with autism," Nicholson said.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is a member of the Affordable Access to Health Care coalition. For more information, visit www.affordableaccesstohealthcare.org.

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