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Blue Cross Blue Shield has agreed to pay $1 million dollars total to families that sought coverage for behavioral therapy for their young autistic children and were denied. The settlement money will go to approximately 100 families, including those that were denied coverage or who had to pay the cost of the therapy out-of-pocket.

The federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit after the families were denied because Blue Cross Blue Shield deemed the therapy “experimental”. Blue Cross Blue Shield has since changed their policies regarding autism therapy: beginning last month they started offering therapy to autistic children from ages 2-5. However, they still maintain that they consider the treatment “investigational and experimental”.

All of the children named in the lawsuit were treated at an autism center operated by William Beaumont Hospitals in Royal Oak, Michigan. The specific therapy offered at the hospital aims to help children address common social and communication issues associated with autism. Early intervention is considered key to helping autistic children develop at a similar rate to their non-autistic peers.

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