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A New, Federal Mental Health Parity Law Takes Effect in October
Jun 17, 2009
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
, passed by Congress in October 2008, promotes equitable care for mental health illnesses by requiring parity between medical and mental health benefits. It applies to group health plans, including both fully insured and self-funded plans. However, small employers with 2-50 employees and individual coverage are exempt.
The new law goes into effect October 3, 2009 and plan sponsors will need to comply beginning with their first plan year renewal after that date. For a majority of plans, the new law will apply as of a January 2010 renewal date.
How this new law affects employers
For health plans that offer medical benefits and
mental health and/or substance abuse benefits, the new law has the following impact:
- Prohibits more restrictive financial requirements, such as copays or deductibles, for mental health/substance abuse benefits than are applied to medical/surgical benefits
- Prohibits more restrictive treatment limitations, such as day or visit limits, for mental health/substance abuse benefits than are applied to medical/surgical benefits
Employers still determine what health plans and coverage to offer, and still define covered mental health and substance abuse benefits. Please be aware that in states with stronger parity requirements, the state law will continue to apply and may, for example, mandate mental health/substance abuse coverage or particular mental health or substance abuse benefits.
We will work with your clients to help them meet the new law’s requirements
Aetna supports this law because they believe it promotes timely and appropriate care for mental health, which is essential to the overall health of their members. Aetna's goal is to aid plan sponsors in lowering overall medical costs and improving employee health and productivity by providing them with a plan that harnesses the value of their behavioral health benefits.