ABA Agencies in MA: What Questions You Should Ask

As you might have read from my earlier post about the difficulties we have faced finding and working with various ABA providers, my family has learned a lot about what we should be looking for, what we should be documenting, and what questions we should be asking earlier on in the ABA process. So here is a checklist that may help you navigate ABA agencies in Massachusetts and the ABA process.

ABA providers in MA

Ask the following questions:

1. Do they accept your insurance? If they do not, ask if they would enter into a one-on-one contract. Some will.

2. Do you have any co-payment requirements? Some ABA Agencies will not charge you a co-payment as they may bill the insurance company a certain way so you won’t have any out of pocket expenses (you may have to ask for them to do this). Alternatively, some may charge you one co-payment per day vs. one co-payment per visit. (For example, if they do an in-school visit in the morning and then an in-home visit in the afternoon, does it count as on visit or two?) If you come to a certain arrangement, make sure to get it in writing. Our past ABA agency in MA, Foundation Lane, tried to retroactively bill us.

3. What is the background of the staff person they will assign to your child? I am really surprised that many ABA Agengies will state that they will start services next week with so and so, and all you know is their name. You should find out their qualifications in advance and see if you can meet with them ahead of time too. That way you can make requests for a new staff person if you don’t think it is going to be a good fit. That may mean you get put back on the wait list, but it is something to ask for. Don’t let them pick anyone. Do your research.

4. What the training requirements are at the ABA agency? Get it in writing as they should have some sort of documentation on how they train their providers and staff. This will help you compare agencies to pick the one that best trains their staff since, in Massachusetts, there are no common standards. (You can read my post about that here.)

5. Can you split provider services? For example, if you can only get services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at ABC agency, then check with your insurance to see if you can get Tuesday and Thursday covered by XYZ company. In many cases you can, which enables you to get up and running faster. There are some concerns with coordination of care and making sure the philiopshies are consistent, but with some work and communication, it is doable.

6. What days did you get services? Keep a calendar and mark off when the staff person works with your child. That way, if there are any billing questions (where the ABA agency is trying to charge you for a service on a certain day), you can pull out your calendar and confirm someone was on site. Granted, the ABA agency may bill for training or reviewing the plan in their offices, but they should be able to provide documentation. Ask for it if you need it. If you run into issues, contact your insurance company and request a claims review.

7. How they are able to handle changes in your child’s schedule? Our previous ABA Provider, Foundation Lane, terminated our services because we had to have two changes in his schedule when he started preschool. If you are starting early intervention services, your child is going to grow and start preschool and other activities. Depending on how those needs change as your child changes, ask what is the procedure to accommodate your growing child because you want the agency to grow with you.

8. How often you will get direct BCBA services? Some will only give you a couple of hours a month. Some a couple of hours a week. Some in person and some only via paper. Depending on your child’s needs, the directive of your child’s physician, and other considerations, you may need (and want) a certain level of training.

So these are some of the questions you should be asking of any ABA agencies in MA. What would you add to the list? 
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