As we approach the year's end and a new US presidency, I reflect on all that has transpired since I started The Mental Health & Autism Insurance Project nine long years ago. We started by helping families with children with autism appeal health plan denials. We drove up to Sacramento frequently and spent a lot of time educating our state legislators. We attended public hearings and shared families' stories re the challenges in obtaining treatments. In the early years, before the passage of the CA Autism Mandate, we often walked a tight rope between the health plans and the state regulators.
Fast forward eight years and much has transpired. We continue to work with families with loved ones with autism, we have expanded from CA to a national audience, and we have expanded our scope to help those with other mental health conditions as well. The passage of Affordable Care Act has resulted in huge reforms for MANY people. While many know that you can now purchase a plan without concern for pre-existing conditions, and young adults can stay on their parents' plan to age 26, most people don't know that the passage of the act requires that mental health be included in parity with medical and surgical health. Also, there cannot be treatment limitations that apply only to mental health conditions. The parity law applies to nearly all health plans, including large employer sponsored self-insured plans. Annual and lifetime limits are no longer allowed. In fact, there are now limits on what consumers are supposed to pay out of pocket: Costs for an individual are not supposed to exceed $6850 for plan year 2016 and $7150 for 2017.
These are huge transformations and reflect progress as a society. With the change in the presidential administration comes a huge question mark on what lies ahead for our families with autism and mental health conditions. Those with large employer self-insured plans which are subject to federal law, those on Medicaid, and those that work for government entities will likely feel the impact first. Those who purchase individual plans, those who work for small employers and those in states with poor regulation will also be impacted. We don't yet know how or when it will happen, though the incoming administration recently stated that repealing health care reform will be first on the agenda. We intend to be there and to speak loud and clear on the needs of the families we serve.
Please know that we at the Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project will be looking out for your rights. We will be speaking with state and federal legislators, we will be writing letters, and we ask you to do this, as well. Share your stories, share them far and wide. Speak to the press. Write letters to the editors. Share on social media. Let everyone know how your lives are better for Health Care Reform, Autism Mandates and the Federal Mental Health Parity Act.
We can't do it without your help. This type of work takes time, effort, and money. Please add us to your list of charities. Please remember to donate. We are plugging for you, but we need your support in order to keep these rights that we have all fought so hard for. Remember, DON'T TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!! Now more than ever! Please give.
Federal employees can donate to MHAIP by visiting www.norcalcfc.org and search for "Autism Health Insurance Project" or with the 5-digit Code 88784. CA state employees may donate here through the CA state campaign, or with our code 29208. If your company uses Benevity, we are listed as Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project. We are a write in charity (as Autism Health Insurance Project) through the United Way of the Bay Area.
When you shop on Smile.Amazon.com, you can select our organization to receive a small percentage of the purchase price by using this link. All donations made to MHAIP are tax-deductible. We appreciate your support!