Recent findings show that white non-Hispanics received the highest per-person spending for autism spectrum disorder services in California, while Hispanics received the least.
“There are more children diagnosed today with autism than any time in history,” J. Paul Leigh, PhD, of the University of California Davis School of Medicine, said in a press release. “Our findings can help stakeholders, including legislators and health insurance administrators, accurately estimate the costs of autism services and plan their budgets to meet the lifelong need for those services.”
J. Paul Leigh
To estimate nonmedical costs for ASD treatment, researchers analyzed data from the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) for the 2012 to 2013 fiscal year for individuals with ASD (n = 42,274) with intellectual disability (n = 12,110) or without (n = 30,164).
Analysis indicated similar per-person spending among males and females ages 3 to 17 years ($10,488 vs. $10,791) and ages 18 years and older ($26,491 vs. $26,627).
Among individuals aged 3 to 17 years, per-person spending was highest among white non-Hispanics ($11,480), followed by Asian non-Hispanics ($11,036), other race/ethnicity ($11,031), Hispanics ($9,571), and black non-Hispanics ($9,482).
Among individuals ages 18 years and older, per-person spending was highest among whites ($31,008), followed by blacks ($26,831), other race/ethnicity ($25,395), Asians ($22,993),
and Hispanics ($18,083).
The subsample of individuals with ASD and intellectual disability had disproportionate influence on findings for individuals aged 18 years and older with ASD only.
Top expenditure categories for per-person spending across all ages were community care facilities ($43,867) and daycare ($11,244).
“The reasons for these disparities deserve investigation. It could be related to the locations of DDS regional offices around the state and the variable costs and availability of services in those areas. But average per-person spending on autism should not differ this much. There are no distinctions in the services needed by people with autism based on race or ethnicity,” Leigh said in the release. “We hope our data can help justify earlier, expanded and equitable spending on younger children with autism. There is a great return on investment in high-quality early intervention services, which consistently have been found to reduce the disability associated with autism and to support the greater independence and integration in society as a whole of adults with autism.” – by Amanda Oldt
The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.