Current law requires some coverage for autism, but the law was vague and didn’t always lead to payment by health insurers, particularly when it came to behavioral services, advocates said.
The bill was passed by the state Legislature in June.
“It provides additional safeguards for individuals with autism to be eligible for the services that they require to maximum health and well-being as well as function,” said Dr. Susan Hyman, associate professor of pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester.
Cuomo plans to sign the bill in a ceremony at the state Capitol.
Former Gov. David Paterson vetoed similar legislation last year that would have required expanded health-care coverage, saying it could cost the state and municipalities $70 million a year.
The new version, however, includes a $45,000-per-year cap on applied behavior analysis, which provides services to help children and adults learn to cope with autism. Autism Speaks, an advocacy group, have estimated that the costs would increase health-insurance premiums by less than 1 percent.
An estimated one in every 100 children is diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum, and the prevalence among boys is roughly one in 70, according to national statistics.
Children with autism can have trouble interacting and communicating with others and engage in repetitive behaviors. Advocates said the new law will ultimately save the state and insurers money because children, in particular, will receive services that could help them in school and succeed as adults.
Twenty-six other states have autism insurance laws.
Health insurers have opposed the bill, saying it would increase insurance costs and require payments for services that should fall to schools.