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Federal Mental Health Parity Update
Oct 22, 2009
There are two new pieces of information regarding the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, passed by Congress in October 2008, which was implemented on October 3, 2009:
- The government was scheduled to release federal regulations regarding the new law in October. However, they are now expected in January 2010. Aetna will closely evaluate those regulations when issued and they may revise their practices if those regulations change their view of what the law requires.
- Groups with union contracts in place are required to comply with the federal mental health parity mandate but have the option to delay until their union contract is up for renewal.
It is important that you and your clients understand the impact of the new law and that affected employers are in compliance beginning with their first plan year renewal after that date. This law specifically affects employers with 51+ employees who offer medical benefits and mental health and/or substance abuse benefits.
How this will affect Aetna’s customers with 51+ employees
The new law promotes equitable care for mental health illnesses by requiring parity between medical and mental health benefits and 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.
For health plans that offer medical benefits and mental health and/or substance abuse benefits, the new law has the following impact:
- Eliminates more restrictive financial requirements, such as copays or deductibles, for mental health/substance abuse benefits than are applied to medical/surgical benefits.
- Eliminates more restrictive treatment limitations, such as day or visit limits, for mental health/substance abuse benefits than are applied to medical/surgical 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.
Aetna will work with their customers 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. Their goal is to help their customers lower their overall medical costs and improve employee health and productivity by providing plans that harness the value of behavioral health benefits.
For more information about Mental Health Parity and its impact on employers, please visit the Behavioral Health page
of aetna.com or contact
your B&P Group Sales Representative. To obtain plan summaries with revised mental health benefits, log in to www.beerepurves.com
and visit the Large Group Carriers webpage.