Lisa Lammens and her husband Dave Ross work at the high-tech company Qualcomm. For many years the couple paid out of pocket for ABA therapy for their son Jaxen, who is on the autism spectrum. Initially the benefit was not covered by Qualcomm. Then, Dave and Lisa decided to ask! Ultimately the company agreed! Now, Jaxen-- and all the children of Qualcomm's employees who need the support-- may receive ABA therapy.
Lisa and Dave wrote a detailed letter to Qualcomm’s benefits department, explaining that many companies were already providing autism benefits. Thirty-two states, they explained, had already legislated Autism Health Insurance Mandates and numerous private companies were voluntarily providing the benefits. Lisa and Dave pointed to research showing that offering benefits resulted in greater employee retention, loyalty and efficiency. Research also showed that adding the benefit only increased insurance premiums by less than one percent.
“I also emphasized the moral responsibility, that if you don’t try to help these kids now, we’re going to be in a worse place in the future,” Lisa said.
To reinforce her viewpoint, Lisa included a Power Point presentation from Autism Speaks. Lisa also received advice from the Autism Health Insurance Project, which suggested Lisa create an internal virtual community at Qualcomm for families impacted by autism. “We posted family friendly links of things happening in the community, and more and more people joined. Soon people started asking questions about autism benefits at Qualcomm too.”
“Within two months, we got an email from the company with the subject “New year, New benefits” and the third benefit listed was ABA. And we were like, ‘oh my god, we’re so excited,’” said Lisa.
Lisa and Dave wanted to share their story, and their letter, in hopes of helping employees at other companies who wish to approach their benefits department. Please share this information with anyone you believe might be interested. The Autism Health Insurance Project also works directly with individuals who would like to approach their company’s benefits department if assistance is needed.