Autism spectrum disorder, politics, and the generosity of insurance mandates in the United States. Academic Article uri icon


  • The study of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the United States has identified a growing prevalence of the disorder across the country, a high economic burden for necessary treatment, and important gaps in insurance for individuals with autism. Confronting these facts, states have moved quickly in recent years to introduce mandates that insurers provide coverage for autism care. This study analyzes these autism insurance mandates and demonstrates that while states have moved swiftly to introduce them, the generosity of the benefits they mandate insurers provide varies dramatically across states. Furthermore, our research finds that controlling for policy need, interest group activity, economic circumstances, the insurance environment, and other factors, the passage of these mandates and differences in their generosity are driven by the ideology of state residents and politicians-with more generous benefits in states with more liberal citizens and increased Democratic control of state government. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the study of health policy, politics, and autism in America.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 17.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Callaghan, T., & Sylvester, S.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Callaghan, Timothy||Sylvester, Steven

editor list (cited editors)

  • Tu, W.

publication date

  • May 2019