Tuscaloosa family pleads with city council for more health insurance benefits for autistics

By Gracie Johnson, WVUA 23 News reporter

Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue employee Allan Hinson and his wife Elizabeth Hinson discovered about 6 months ago that their twin daughters, Mattie and Milly, had been diagnosed with autism.

Fortunately, their daughters received an early diagnosis and were able to be guided to many helpful resources around Tuscaloosa, including the University of Alabama Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic.

When the girls’ therapies began, the family quickly realized that their insurance policy with the city of Tuscaloosa did not cover ABA, speech, or even occupational therapy.

The family shared that these necessary therapies for their daughters were looking to cost them around $234,000 without the necessary additional insurance coverage.

“Families who work for the city and don’t have the coverage they haven’t been able to come to as often as they needed for their children or haven’t been able to get services at all because they didn’t have insurance to cover it,” said Elizabeth, Milly and Mattie’s mother.

“So with the number of children being diagnosed with ASD each year, I think this will help impact many families.”

Elizabeth took it upon herself, with the help of friends, to begin advocating with the Tuscaloosa City Council to potentially add additional benefits to the current autism coverage under the City’s health insurance plan.

Last week, the city of Tuscaloosa decided to go ahead and consider adding the supplemental coverage to next year’s benefits program.

“Hopefully if the council votes for it, it will come into effect on October 1, 2022. So we’re really excited about that,” Elizabeth said.