Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan plans to offer customer groups ability to purchase coverage of autism treatment programs that provide intensive early intervention

May 11, 2009

DETROIT - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan today announced it plans to offer its customer groups the ability to purchase coverage for autism treatment programs that provide intensive early intervention. The new benefit option covers children aged two to five years old who use a treatment called Applied Behavorial Analysis (ABA). The new benefit option is subject to approval by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.

The benefit coverage, which consists of up to 60 treatment sessions (usually 12 weeks) can be used once per child, will be available for purchase by customer groups that already have outpatient mental health coverage. The Blues plan to begin offering the coverage July 1, pending regulatory approval. Many Michigan insurers do not currently provide customer groups with the ability to purchase the benefit option.

"We saw a need in the community and moved to find a way to address it," said Thomas Simmer, M.D., Blues senior vice president and chief medical officer. "We developed this coverage option as part of our commitment to improving the health and wellness of all Michigan children and families."

The change will not in any way affect current BCBSM medical coverage that has been available to children with autism. BCBSM currently pays for some services for children with autism including an initial exam and evaluation for speech therapy.

"This is a reasonable new offering which does not unduly create a price impact on customer groups that would affect their ability to continue to provide health care coverage to their employees," Simmer said.

BCBSM customer groups can contact their agent or BCBSM sales representative for further information once the coverage option receives regulatory approval.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, provides and administers health benefits to 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to members of Michigan-headquartered groups who reside outside the state. The company offers a broad variety of plans including: Traditional Blue Cross Blue Shield; Blue Preferred®, Community Blue℠ and Healthy Blue Incentives℠ PPOs; Blue Care Network HMO; BCN Healthy Blue Living℠; Flexible Blue℠ plans compatible with health savings accounts; Medicare Advantage; Part D Prescription Drug plans, and MyBlue℠ products in the under-age-65 individual market. BCBSM also offers dental, vision and hearing plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com.

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