Your Legal Rights
Robert Tudisco answers your questions about ADD and the law.
ADHD at the Wheel
My son, who has ADHD, has been caught speeding twice, and has gotten into an accident. Our auto insurance premiums are now sky-high. Can we appeal to the insurance company to lower our rates, claiming he has a medical condition?
You can appeal the insurance company’s decision to raise your premiums, but you don’t have much legal recourse. Although the actions of the insurance company appear discriminatory, its actions are due not to your son’s ADHD, but to the higher-than-normal risk that your son will get into another accident. Insurance companies factor such risks into their premiums, even though your son’s risky driving may be due not to faulty driving schools but his ADHD.
The bottom line: As long as the insurance company treats all high-risk drivers the same way, disability or not, you don’t have a case of discrimination.
Videotaping an IEP Meeting
I asked a friend to videotape an IEP meeting involving my son, but the school told me this is against the law. I am a visual learner, and I wanted to watch it to make sure I remembered all the points teachers made. Why can’t I do it?
Recording an IEP meeting, with a tape recorder or a video camera, is not necessarily against the law, but it requires that the school district must consent to it, and its administrators must be permitted to record the meeting themselves. Most school officials and teachers are reluctant to have such sensitive meetings videotaped.
Some attorneys recommend taping a meeting, but I think it is a mistake, unless there has been a significant factual dispute with the school in the past. From my experience, the school will think you suspect it of being untruthful, which sets the stage for an adversarial relationship. Take notes instead, or assign the task to a special-education advocate or a friend. After the meeting, write down everything that took place and who said what at the table. Put it into a diplomatic, but assertive, letter, which also thanks everyone for their time, and send a copy to the school district a couple of days later.
I’ll See You in Court?
My pharmacy plan is taking Concerta off the formulary list. The company suggests my son use Ritalin, which he tried years ago without success. Do I have legal recourse to make the plan cover Concerta?
You may. Before taking the insurance company to court, go through the company’s internal administrative process. Have your doctor speak with the insurance company and explain that Ritalin did not work for your son and that Concerta had been prescribed instead. Also have the doctor draft a letter and mail or fax it to the company. If the company still refuses to cover the medication, file a formal appeal with the company. Keep copies of all the letters, along with copies of correspondence from your insurance company, in a file.
If the company still doesn’t cover the medication, and if you find the company’s policy contradicts the law or its own regulations, file a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance. Contact an attorney who specializes in health insurance law to advise you on how to proceed. On the federal level, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires that insurance companies apply the same dollar and treatment limits to mental health conditions that they apply to physical health conditions. Talk with your attorney about possible violations of this law.