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Does Insurance Cover ABA Therapy?

Yes, most insurance plans cover ABA therapy. In fact, in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated that insurance companies cover medically necessary treatments for autism, including ABA therapy.

ABA Therapy Insurance Coverage for Autism

Is ABA therapy covered by insurance?

The good news is yes, most insurance plans cover ABA therapy, or Applied Behavior Analysis. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated that insurance companies cover medically necessary treatments for autism, including ABA therapy. Most insurance plans cover autism therapy, including ABA therapy and autism evaluations.

Coverage may vary depending on the insurance plan, the state you live in, and the age of the individual receiving therapy.

How much does ABA therapy cost without insurance?

The cost of ABA therapy without insurance can vary widely depending on the provider, location, and other factors. ABA therapy can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour.

Some providers may offer a sliding scale fee based on income, while others may offer a package deal for a certain number of hours or sessions. It's important to do research and ask for quotes from multiple providers to get an idea of the cost in your area.

Additionally, some providers may offer financial assistance or payment plans to help make ABA therapy more affordable for families who do not have insurance coverage.

What insurance plans cover ABA therapy?

Most insurance plans, including Medicaid and private insurance plans, cover ABA therapy to some extent. However, the coverage may vary depending on the state you live in and the insurance plan you have. Some insurance plans may have a limit on the number of therapy sessions covered, while others may not cover ABA therapy at all.

It's important to check your insurance plan to see what ABA therapy benefits are available and to understand any limitations or exclusions. You can also contact your insurance company to ask specific questions about your coverage.

How do insurance companies cover ABA therapy?

Insurance coverage for ABA therapy varies depending on the insurance company and the specific policy. However, in recent years, many insurance companies have started to cover ABA therapy as a treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) due to changes in state and federal laws.

Typically, insurance coverage for ABA therapy involves the following:

  • Diagnosis: The child must have a diagnosis of ASD from a qualified healthcare provider.
  • Treatment Plan: ABA therapy must be recommended by a qualified healthcare provider, and a treatment plan must be developed.
  • Prior Authorization: Insurance companies may require prior authorization before beginning ABA therapy to ensure that it is medically necessary.
  • Coverage Limits: Insurance policies may have limits on the number of hours or sessions of ABA therapy that they will cover each year.
  • In-Network Providers: Insurance policies may require that families use in-network providers to receive coverage.

Not all insurance policies cover ABA therapy, and families should check with their specific insurance company to determine their coverage and any associated costs or limitations.

How to get insurance coverage for ABA therapy?

To get insurance coverage for ABA therapy, you will need to provide your insurance company with a diagnosis of autism from a qualified healthcare provider. You may also need to provide documentation from a BCBA or other qualified provider stating that ABA therapy is medically necessary.

Once your insurance company approves your coverage, you can start looking for a qualified ABA therapist or provider in your area. Your insurance company may have a list of providers that are in-network and covered by your plan.

Autism insurance coverage by state

  • California: California has one of the most comprehensive autism insurance mandates, requiring coverage for behavioral health treatment, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, among other services.
  • Texas: Texas also has a robust autism insurance law that covers the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including ABA therapy.
  • New York: New York's autism insurance mandate requires coverage for screening, diagnosis, and medically necessary treatments, including ABA therapy.
  • Florida: Florida has an autism insurance law that provides coverage for diagnosis and treatment, including ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
  • Illinois: Illinois requires health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including ABA therapy.
  • Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania's autism insurance mandate includes coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including ABA therapy.
  • New Jersey: New Jersey has comprehensive autism insurance coverage that includes screening, diagnosis, and treatment, including ABA therapy.

These are just a few examples, and many other states have their own autism insurance laws in place. We recommend checking the specific legislation in your state or consulting with an insurance professional or advocacy organization to get the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding autism insurance coverage in your area.

Insurance companies that cover ABA therapy

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield: Many Blue Cross Blue Shield plans provide coverage for ABA therapy. However, the availability and extent of coverage can vary based on the specific plan and state.
  • UnitedHealthcare: UnitedHealthcare offers various plans that may include coverage for ABA therapy. It's important to review the specific details of your plan to understand the coverage available.
  • Aetna: Aetna is another insurance provider that may offer coverage for ABA therapy. As with other insurance companies, the specifics of coverage can vary based on the plan and policy.
  • Cigna: Cigna has been known to provide coverage for ABA therapy in some of their plans. It's advisable to check the details of your specific policy to determine the extent of coverage.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a government program that provides healthcare coverage for individuals with limited income and resources. Many Medicaid programs across different states cover ABA therapy for eligible individuals, but coverage criteria may vary.

It's important to keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and there may be other insurance companies or regional providers that offer coverage for ABA therapy.

Always reach out to your insurance company directly or consult with a qualified healthcare provider to verify coverage details specific to your policy. They will be able to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding insurance coverage for ABA therapy.

How to file an appeal if your insurance company denies coverage for ABA therapy?

While insurance companies are required by law to cover ABA therapy, there may be instances where they deny coverage. If your insurance company denies coverage for ABA therapy, you have the right to file an appeal.

The first step in filing an appeal is to review your insurance policy and understand why the claim was denied. Once you understand the reason for the denial, you can begin the appeals process by contacting your insurance company directly. You will need to provide documentation that supports why you believe ABA therapy is medically necessary for your child.

If your initial appeal is denied, you can continue with additional levels of appeals, including external reviews by independent medical professionals who are not affiliated with your insurance company.

The appeals process can be time-consuming and challenging. However, it's worth pursuing if you believe that ABA therapy is essential for your child's well-being and development. There are also advocacy organizations that can help families navigate the appeals process and advocate on their behalf.

In summary, if your insurance company denies coverage for ABA therapy:

  • Review your insurance policy and understand why the claim was denied.
  • Contact your insurance company directly and provide documentation supporting why you believe ABA therapy is medically necessary.
  • Continue with additional levels of appeals if necessary.
  • Consider seeking assistance from advocacy organizations specializing in autism treatment.

How many people have ABA therapy covered by health insurance?

According to a report by Autism Speaks, as of 2019, 49 states in the United States had laws requiring some level of insurance coverage for autism treatments, including ABA therapy. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in 2018 found that among families with children with ASD, 74% reported using private health insurance to pay for their child's treatment, including ABA therapy.

While it is difficult to determine an exact number of people who have ABA therapy covered by health insurance, these statistics suggest that a significant number of families are accessing ABA therapy through their insurance policies.

How to find a qualified ABA therapist or provider?

Finding a qualified ABA therapist or provider can be challenging, but there are several resources available that can help.

One way to find a qualified ABA therapist or provider is through your insurance company. Many insurance companies have a list of in-network providers who specialize in ABA therapy. This can be a good place to start when looking for a qualified provider.

Another resource is the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) website. The BACB is the governing body that oversees certification for behavior analysts and provides a directory of certified professionals on their website. You can search for certified behavior analysts in your area and read their bios to learn more about their qualifications and experience.

When choosing an ABA therapist or provider, it's important to look for someone who has experience working with individuals with autism. You should also ask about their training and credentials, including whether they hold a BCBA certification. Additionally, you may want to ask about their approach to therapy and how they will develop individualized treatment plans for your child.

Other factors to consider when choosing an ABA therapist or provider include location, availability, and cost. It's important to choose someone who is convenient for you to get to and who has availability that fits your schedule. You should also consider the cost of therapy and whether the provider accepts your insurance plan.

By doing your research and asking the right questions, you can find a qualified ABA therapist or provider who can help your child reach their full potential.

Questions to ask your insurance provider

When contacting your insurance provider to inquire about coverage for ABA therapy, here are some questions you may consider asking:

  1. Is ABA therapy covered under my insurance plan?
  2. What are the specific requirements or criteria for coverage of ABA therapy?
  3. Are there any limitations or restrictions on the number of sessions or duration of coverage for ABA therapy?
  4. Are there any pre-authorization or referral requirements before starting ABA therapy?
  5. Are there any specific qualifications or credentials that ABA providers need to meet for coverage?
  6. Are there any network restrictions or preferred providers for ABA therapy?
  7. What is the process for submitting claims for ABA therapy services?
  8. Is there a deductible, copayment, or coinsurance associated with ABA therapy coverage?
  9. Are there any specific documentation or assessments required to demonstrate medical necessity for ABA therapy?
  10. Are there any age limitations or age-specific requirements for coverage of ABA therapy?
  11. How do I request an appeal if coverage for ABA therapy is denied?
  12. Are there any additional resources or support available to assist with understanding and navigating ABA therapy coverage?

Remember to have your insurance policy details handy and take notes during the conversation to keep track of the information provided. It's always a good idea to document the date, time, and the name of the representative you spoke with for future reference.

Strategies for maximizing insurance coverage for ABA therapy

While many insurance policies cover ABA therapy, families may find that their coverage is limited or that they are facing high out-of-pocket costs. Here are some strategies for maximizing insurance coverage for ABA therapy:

Utilizing Out-of-Network Benefits

If your insurance policy has out-of-network benefits, you may be able to work with an ABA therapist or provider who is not in-network and still receive some coverage. This can be helpful if there are no in-network providers in your area or if the in-network providers have long waitlists.

Before choosing an out-of-network provider, it's important to understand the specifics of your policy's out-of-network benefits. You may need to pay a higher deductible or coinsurance rate, and there may be limits on the amount of coverage available.

Negotiating Rates with Providers

If you are having trouble finding an in-network provider or feel that the rates charged by in-network providers are too high, you may be able to negotiate rates directly with a provider. Some providers may be willing to offer discounted rates or payment plans for families who are paying out-of-pocket.

When negotiating rates, it's important to ask about any discounts that may be available and to make sure that you understand the total cost of treatment upfront. You should also ask about any payment plans or financing options that may be available.

Seeking Assistance from Advocacy Organizations

There are several advocacy organizations dedicated to helping families access autism treatment, including ABA therapy. These organizations can provide information on insurance coverage and help families navigate the appeals process if their claims are denied.

Some advocacy organizations also offer financial assistance programs for families who cannot afford ABA therapy. These programs may provide grants, scholarships, or other forms of financial aid to help cover the cost of treatment.

By utilizing these strategies and seeking support from advocacy organizations, families can maximize their insurance coverage for ABA therapy and ensure that their children are receiving the treatment they need to reach their full potential.

State and Federal Requirements for Autism Coverage

Many states have enacted autism insurance mandates, also known as autism insurance reform laws. These mandates typically require health insurance plans to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. However, the specific details and requirements can vary significantly from state to state. Some states may have age limitations, caps on coverage amounts, or other restrictions.

It's important to review the specific autism insurance mandate in your state to understand the coverage requirements and any limitations that may apply. You can consult the state's Department of Insurance or the official legislative websites to access the relevant legislation and regulations.

Federal Requirements:

At the federal level, there are a few laws that indirectly impact autism coverage:

  1. Affordable Care Act (ACA): The ACA requires insurance plans offered in the individual and small group markets to cover essential health benefits, which include mental health and behavioral health services. While it does not specifically mandate coverage for autism or ABA therapy, these services may be covered as part of the broader essential health benefits requirement.
  2. Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA): MHPAEA requires insurance plans to provide equal coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services as they do for medical and surgical services. This law helps ensure that limitations, such as treatment limits or financial requirements, for mental health services are no more restrictive than those for medical services.
  3. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): IDEA is a federal law that governs special education services for children with disabilities. It requires public schools to provide appropriate educational services, including necessary therapies, to eligible students with autism. While not directly related to insurance coverage, IDEA can play a role in accessing services for children with autism.

For the most current and accurate information, we recommend consulting official government websites, contacting your state's Department of Insurance, or seeking advice from a qualified healthcare professional or legal expert.

We've Got You Covered

At Golden Steps ABA, we understand the importance of ABA therapy in the lives of individuals with autism. We believe that everyone should have access to this life-changing treatment, regardless of their insurance coverage. That's why we're thrilled to share some great news with you today: our commitment to ensuring comprehensive coverage for ABA therapy extends to most insurance plans!

If you or a loved one could benefit from ABA therapy, reach out to us today. Let us handle the insurance complexities while you focus on what truly matters – the progress, growth, and well-being of your loved one.


Insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can vary based on factors such as your insurance plan, state of residence, and the age of the individual seeking therapy. It is crucial to review your insurance plan to determine the specific ABA therapy benefits provided and be aware of any limitations or exclusions that may apply.

To ensure you have accurate information about your coverage, consider reaching out to your insurance company or consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.

ABA therapy has the potential to significantly impact the lives of individuals with autism, and having insurance coverage can enhance accessibility for families in need. Take the initiative to explore your options and make informed decisions for the benefit of yourself or your loved ones.

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