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51+: Mental Health Parity Act takes effect on October 3, 2009

Jun 02, 2009

The Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHP), which becomes effective on October 3, 2009, is an important mandate that will have an impact on Anthem Blue Cross' business and their clients. 

This law requires health plans to provide "parity," or equal coverage, for mental health and substance use disorder benefits. This means that copayments, co-insurance, deductibles, visitation or treatment limits, out-of-pocket maximums, out-of-network benefits, etc., for medical/surgical benefits and mental health/substance use disorder benefits must be aligned.

The MHP requirements will take effect for most plans on the next renewal date on or after October 3, 2009.* The law affects all fully insured and self-insured health plans covering 51 or more employees. 

For details, see the Mental Health Parity FAQ. Information about the Mental Health Parity Act will also appear in upcoming employer newsletters. 

*The MHP legislation states that plans must be in "parity" on the first day of any ERISA Plan year that begins or renews on or after October 3, 2009. The ERISA Plan year is the plan year that is filed by a group plan on ERISA Form 5500 (which is not the benefits plan year). Anthem will work with employers to bring their benefits to parity on each plan's renewal date, unless an employer notifies Anthem that they want to bring the plan into parity on another date to be consistent with their ERISA Form 5500 filing.
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