SOURCE: Burnham Benefits Insurance Services

Burnham Benefits Insurance Services

June 26, 2012 18:00 ET

Burnham Benefits Expects California's Autism Coverage Requirement to Increase Medical Insurance Costs

Employee Benefits Firm Predicts Costs to Increase by 0.20-0.80%

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwire - Jun 26, 2012) - On July 1, 2012, SB 946, also known as the "Autism Bill" -- a provision that provides insurance coverage for those diagnosed with autism, autism spectrum disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger's Syndrome -- will go into effect. Burnham Benefits, one of the largest employee benefits brokerages in Southern California and one of the few to specialize solely in strategic employee benefits consulting and brokerage services, expects the new regulation to increase fully insured annual medical insurance plan costs anywhere from 0.20-0.80 percent.

"The new coverage requirement will certainly alleviate some of the financial strain families affected by autism experience," says Burnham Benefits underwriter, Ryan Meissner. "However, Burnham Benefits projects the mandate to impact overall annual costs up to 0.80 percent, and although the impact may not seem significant, every increase adds up in today's environment of medical insurance costs."

In addition to the projected cost increase, it is likely that behavioral health service utilization will also rise. Burnham expects behavioral health care providers to modify their contractual agreements with medical insurance carriers in a way that could potentially increase consumer costs yet again.

According to the Autism Society, the cost of the disorder is estimated to top $3.2 million in one person's lifespan. SB 946 was passed with the hope that thousands of California families will be able to save on out-of-pocket costs associated with treatment for autism and other behavioral health conditions.

Burnham Benefits notes that SB 946 does not apply to self-funded medical plans. Self-funded plans may include the coverage outlined under SB 946, but it is not required. The mandate is due to expire on July 1, 2014 and an automatic repeal will take place on January 1, 2015.

For more information on how SB 946 and other regulations will affect insurance costs, contact Burnham Benefits at 949.833.2983, inquiries@burnhambenefits.com or visit the company's website: www.burnhambenefits.com.

ABOUT BURNHAM BENEFITS INSURANCE SERVICES: Based in Irvine, Calif., Burnham Benefits Insurance Services, Inc., is one of the largest employee benefits brokerages in Southern California and one of the few to specialize solely in employee benefits. Kristen Allison, President of Burnham Benefits and a 30-year industry veteran, acquired the firm in 1995 from John Burnham Insurance Services, an Orange County mainstay for more than 50 years. Boasting the in-depth industry knowledge and Fortune 500 resources of a large firm, Burnham Benefits prides itself on retaining the flexibility, creativity and consultative service of a boutique. After steady growth of 20 percent annually for the past 10 years, the company serves more than 300 corporate clients throughout the United States and manages more than $500 million in premiums. Working with its colleagues at Burnham Gibson Financial Services, and having the added expertise of in-house underwriters, compliance officers and communications specialists, Burnham Benefits provides an integrated approach to managing a client's full spectrum of employee benefits. Named the best small company to work for by the Orange County Business Journal in 2011, the company has three offices in California: Irvine, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, as well as offices in Oregon and the Washington D.C. metro area. For more information, visit www.BurnhamBenefits.com.

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