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Mental Health & Autism Insurance Project

Our Story

The idea for the Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project came about when parents came together and realized that their health plans were providing few, if any, services for our children with ASDs. A non-profit was formed in 2009. Our mission is to assist families with children with autism spectrum disorders (and later other mental health conditions) to obtain medically necessary treatments through their health plans, so that they can ultimately reach their full potential. We do this by fielding questions from the public, offering seminars to the public, educating legislators and regulators on laws that will protect these populations, and providing direct services to assist families with obtaining single case agreements, writing appeals and requesting regulatory intervention. We also help providers and the facilities that serve them by offering pre and ongoing authorizations, appeal writing, billing (for facilities), collecting unpaid claims, and other services, as needed.

Some Background

Even before her son was diagnosed, Karen Fessel sought to get the most out of her health insurance benefits. Having a Doctorate in Public Health and having worked in a variety of health settings, including Kaiser, she felt that it was important for health insurance to provide medical care that individuals need. When her son first came to medical attention, Karen was told to take him to the school district for further evaluation. Her son was offered a half hour a week of group speech therapy during his pre-school years. He did not qualify for regional center. With only a vague diagnosis of expressive and receptive language delay, Karen turned to her health plan to supplement the school district’s meager offering and also to provide occupational and later group social skills therapies. Later, with the diagnosis of Asperger’s, Karen was able to secure regional center support, more extensive educational programs from the school district, and health insurance protection under AB 88, the California Mental Health Parity law.

Mission & Vision

Our mission is to help families, providers, and facilities obtain medically necessary treatments through health insurance. Envisioning a world where everyone gets the healthcare services that they need without a fight.

Creating a world where people with autistic spectrum and mental health conditions obtain the health care services that they need in order to maximize their potential.

What We Do

We help families, providers, mental health facilities, and other relevant parties secure health insurance coverage for interventions associated with autistic spectrum disorders and mental health conditions. We do pre- and ongoing authorizations, file and follow up on claims, write appeals and file requests for external reviews.

Support Mhaip To Help Families

We are excited to be a part of several employer based fundraising programs. Through these programs, you can donate to our organization easily through payroll deductions set up with your employer.

If you are a federal employee, we participate in the Norcal Combined Federal Campaign. Our 5-digit Code is 88784. 

Click here to donate

We are also a recognized cause through the corporate employer-matching philanthropic site Benevity (as Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project).

We are also a registered charity with the PayPal Giving Fund.  Donate here, and no fees will be deducted. 

In addition, when you shop on, you can select our organization to receive a small percentage of the purchase price by clicking here.

Your donation helps to

Supplement our sliding scale program, pay for educational seminars and workshops for families and professionals, and allows us to provide free advice to families needing help with insurance.

Featured Recent Newsletter

December 2019

Support Our Mission Reflecting on 10 Years of Advocacy

November 2019

New MHAIP Website Understand the Affordable Care Act
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