The SpringBoard Plus, made by the Prentke Romich Company is a speech-generating device (SGD). There are many on the market, some called Augmentative Communication Devices (ACDs). They can be used by people with a speech disorder or with a motor impairment or paralysis which makes writing and sign language impossible.
They are also being used to help with autism. A child diagnosed with autism does not communicate easily and perhaps not at all. But that is not necessarily because he or she doesn’t want to communicate. Outbreaks or tantrums may express the child’s frustration at being unable to talk, and there are researchers working on ways to make talk possible.
How Does the SGD Work?
The SpringBoard Plus looks a bit like an Etch-a-Sketch, with a touch screen in a red frame and about 30 small buttons. Each button has a picture on it to represent a word, and the word itself. When a child touches a sequence of them, a sentence appears in a screen at the top. Another button will make the SGD say the sentence.
Refusal of Insurance Coverage
SGDs cost between $4,500 and $9,000. Not surprisingly, some insurance companies, such as Regence Blue Shield, have refused to cover them, at least for autism. Regence claims that their value for autism is not proved and it has rejected multiple appeals for coverage. Premera Blue Cross has alternated between accepting and rejecting appeals for coverage.
In Washington state, a New York lawyer is working with families of autistic children and disabled people, as well as their speech pathologists. If the speech pathologist determines that an SGD would be a promising option for someone, the patient would try one. The pathologist would work with them to help them make progress in communicating with others. When some progress is established, insurance coverage would be requested.
However, the insurance companies have been relying on research reviews rather than live reports about any particular patient. They have misinterpreted some of the reviews, according to the reviews’ authors. This is an ongoing issue in Washington and perhaps elsewhere. Denial of coverage is a frequent response of insurance companies.
If you have been denied coverage for something you believe should be covered, please contact us for a free case evaluation.