Missouri will require that health carriers provide up to $40,000 per year in applied behavioral analysis coverage for insured children who have autism spectrum disorders.

Gov. Jay Nixon, D, signed House Bill 1311, the bill creating the mandate, into law June 10.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.

State-regulated health carriers in Missouri will have to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for enrolled children until they are 18.

Carriers must cover applied behavioral analysis services for those children, and they may not limit the number of visits for children who are receiving that type of therapy, officials say.

Carriers also may not refuse to renew or restrict coverage for a policyholder simply because a dependent has an autism spectrum disorder.