58-3-192. Coverage for autism spectrum disorder.

(a) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) Adaptive behavior treatment. - Behavioral and developmental interventions that systematically manage instructional and environmental factors or the consequences of behavior that have been shown to be clinically effective through research published in peer reviewed scientific journals and based upon randomized, quasi-experimental, or single subject designs. Both of the following requirements must be met:

a. The intervention must be necessary to (i) increase appropriate or adaptive behaviors, (ii) decrease maladaptive behaviors, or (iii) develop, maintain, or restore, to the maximum extent practicable, the functioning of an individual.

b. The treatment must be ordered by a licensed physician or licensed psychologist and the treatment must be provided or supervised by one of the following professionals, so long as the services or supervision provided is commensurate with the professional's training, experience, and scope of practice:

1. A licensed psychologist or psychological associate.

2. A licensed psychiatrist or developmental pediatrician.

3. A licensed speech and language pathologist.

4. A licensed occupational therapist.

5. A licensed clinical social worker.

6. A licensed professional counselor.

7. A licensed marriage and family therapist.

8. A board certified behavior analyst.

(2) Autism spectrum disorder. - As defined by the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the most recent edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Autism spectrum disorder is not considered a mental illness as defined in G.S. 58-3-220, 58-51-55, 58-65-90, or 58-67-75.

(3) Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. - Any medically necessary assessments, evaluations, or tests to determine whether an individual has autism spectrum disorder.

(4) Health benefit plan. - As defined in G.S. 58-3-167.

(5) Pharmacy care. - Medications prescribed by a licensed health care provider.

(6) Psychiatric care. - Direct or consultative services provided by a licensed psychiatrist.

(7) Psychological care. - Direct or consultative services provided by a licensed psychologist or licensed psychological associate.

(8) Therapeutic care. - Direct or consultative services provided by a licensed speech therapist, licensed occupational therapist, licensed physical therapist, licensed clinical social worker, licensed professional counselor, or licensed marriage and family therapists.

(9) Treatment for autism spectrum disorder. - Any of the following care for an individual diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or equipment related to that care, ordered by a licensed physician or a licensed psychologist who determines the care to be medically necessary:

a. Adaptive behavior treatment.

b. Pharmacy care.

c. Psychiatric care.

d. Psychological care.

e. Therapeutic care.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, health benefit plans shall provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. No insurer shall terminate coverage or refuse to issue, amend, or renew coverage to an individual solely because the individual is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or has received treatment for autism spectrum disorder.

(c) Coverage for adaptive behavior treatment under this section may be subject to a maximum benefit of up to forty thousand dollars ($40,000) per year and may be limited to individuals 18 years of age or younger. Beginning in 2017 and for subsequent years, the amount shall be indexed using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the South Region and shall be rounded to the nearest whole thousand dollars. The index factor shall be the index as of March of the year preceding the change divided by the index as of March 2015. This amount shall be posted by the Commissioner no later than April 1 of each year and shall apply to policies renewed or purchased the following calendar year.

(d) Coverage under this section may not be denied on the basis that the treatments are habilitative or educational in nature.

(e) Coverage under this section may be subject to co-payment, deductible, and coinsurance provisions of a health benefit plan that are not less favorable than the co-payment, deductible, and coinsurance provisions that apply to substantially all medical services covered by the health benefit plan.

(f) This section shall not be construed as limiting benefits that are otherwise available to an individual under a health benefit plan.

(g) Nothing in this section shall apply to non-grandfathered health plans in the individual and small group markets that are subject to the requirement to cover the essential health benefit package under 45 C.F.R. 147.150(a).

(h) This section shall not be construed as affecting any obligation to provide services to an individual under an individualized family service plan, an individualized education program, or an individualized service plan.

(i) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, health benefit plans shall provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in accordance with the standards contained in Subtitle B of Title V of Public Law 110-343, known as the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, and the applicable regulations, as amended. (2015-271, s. 2; 2017-57, s. 22.3(a).)