Tricare covers autism therapy

| April 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

Shari Lopatin
TriWest Healthcare Alliance



PHOENIX — Today, autism in children has become more prevalent than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS — combined.

That’s according to Autism Speaks, a national autism science and advocacy organization that defines autism as “a group of complex developmental brain disorders.”

Today, about one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month, an observance that’s been celebrated by the Autism Society since the 1970s, according to its website. Autism Awareness Month highlights the growing need for concern about autism and its potential treatments.

Many different types of treatment exist for an autistic individual.

One of the more prominent techniques that’s gained recent notoriety is Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, therapy. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, ABA may help reduce problem behaviors associated with autism and teach vital new skills.

As part of the growing recognition of ABA therapy, Tricare now covers this type of treatment for eligible beneficiaries.

It’s part of Tricare’s Autism Services Demonstration, an enhanced benefit under the Extended Care Health Option, or ECHO, program. ECHO is Tricare’s benefit for individuals with disabilities.

To be eligible for ECHO, a family must first enroll into its service branch’s Exceptional Family Member Program. Each service branch has a point of contact to help families enroll. After enrolling, the family needs a referral to register for ECHO, which can be obtained from a provider or even a self-referral. After families get registered in ECHO, they can check their eligibility for the Autism Services Demonstration.

Children eligible for the Autism Services Demonstration must have a diagnosis that falls along the autism spectrum. In addition, they must have an active duty sponsor, be living in the U.S., be 18 months or older, and be enrolled in the ECHO program through their Tricare regional contractor.

The Tricare Autism Services Demonstration covers ABA treatment and other types of therapies that fall under the umbrella of “Educational Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders.”

The providers who implement these therapies must be Tricare-authorized for the treatments to be covered.

Each month, families pay a “cost share” for services they receive under ECHO. This monthly cost share depends on the sponsor’s pay grade.

To learn more about ASD, visit

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Category: Community, Health, Observances

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