Regence Blue Shield has recently changed its policy to cover speech-generating devices (SGDs), which allow non-verbal people — such as those with autism — to communicate. In the past, Regence denied coverage for these devices for those with autism or mental retardation, citing that SGD use by people with these diagnoses was "investigational."
Regence officials previously claimed that the science didn't support SGD use in people with autism or mental retardation, but this stance actually went against scientific consensus. While it makes sense that as new data come in, policies change, the new policy doesn't cite new research findings to account for Regence's policy change, and the strange hodgepodge of reasons given in previous policy statements for excluding people with autism and mental retardation has simply been dropped.
Whatever the reason, it's an encouraging sign of a better alignment between health insurance policy and scientific consensus. But given the on again–off again history of Premera Blue Cross's coverage in these same circumstances, it will be interesting to see whether this policy change will really stick.