With the new year comes greater options for those living with autism as more than half a dozen states begin requiring health insurers to cover the disorder.

New laws took effect in Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada and New Hampshire on Jan. 1 mandating health insurance plans to cover autism diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, new autism coverage requirements implemented in 2010 became meaningful for many residents of Kentucky and New Jersey when their health insurance plans renewed with the new year, according to Autism Speaks, which lobbied for the reforms.

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Nearly half of states now have laws mandating health insurance coverage of autism. While regulations vary from state to state, generally speaking they require insurance providers to cover screening, diagnosis and treatment such as applied behavior analysis, or ABA therapy.

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