Blue Cross Removes Age Limits from Autism Treatment Services

Amy Barczy

| 2 min read

Amy Barczy is a former brand journalist who authored content at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Prior to her time at Blue Cross from 2019-2024, she was a statewide news reporter for She has a decade of storytelling experience in local news media markets including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Ann Arbor and Port Huron.

Father and son hugging each other at home
Medically necessary autism treatment services will now be covered for members by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan with no age limit. Blue Cross is retroactively updating its medical policy, effective Jan. 1, 2022, to allow members to continue to receive medically necessary autism spectrum disorder services after age 19. Previously, members aged out of coverage for certain services when they turned 19 – a policy that followed state of Michigan legal guidelines. These age limits are no longer considered an appropriate way to determine whether treatment for autism spectrum disorder is medically necessary. This Blue Cross policy change is in line with guidance from the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services and the federal government. Members who turn 19 in 2022 and would have previously aged out of autism spectrum disorder services will now remain eligible to continue medically necessary treatment. Autism spectrum disorder manifests itself in a wide variety of behaviors based on symptom type and severity. This spectrum disorder includes verbal and nonverbal challenges and has links to a group of complex neurodevelopmental conditions. Autism can present itself differently in each person. While some individuals may exhibit notable speech delays and intellectual disabilities, others can experience barriers such as little to no language and/or have unusual interests and difficulty following social cues. It’s not uncommon for those on the spectrum to struggle in certain areas, while easily excelling in others. Most Blue Cross plans cover or help pay for services that treat autism spectrum disorders for members. Standard autism benefits include:
  • Applied behavior analysis, or ABA
  • Physical, speech and occupational therapy
  • Nutritional counseling
ABA is one behavioral treatment approach most commonly used with children with autism spectrum disorder. It involves a structured environment, predictable routines, and individualized treatment. Additional interventions complement ABA by including transition, aftercare planning and significant family involvement. ABA is designed to increase skills related to behavioral deficits, increase social skills and reduce behavioral excesses which can be barriers to learning. Check your coverage to see what services are covered through your plan by logging in to your member account on or to the Blue Cross mobile app. Learn more about autism coverage offered by Blue Cross and Blue Care Network by visiting this page at Related:
Photo credit: Getty Images

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.



Jul 8, 2022 at 7:21pm

This is good news considering that girls often do not exhibit the same as boys and often "mask" behaviors. Pediatric screening is evolving. Some are reaching young adulthood before realizing they are or may be 'on the spectrum' and ineligible for diagnosis or support.

MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association