The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 requires that mental health treatments receive parity with other kinds of treatments under a group health insurance plan. It means that the same amounts be designated for mental health treatments as the amounts allocated for all other kinds of treatment, so that an employee can receive the same kind of care if he or she suffers from a psychological ailment that he or she does in case of a physical problem.
Under Arizona employee benefit, an employer is free to decide whether to include mental health coverage as a part of the group health insurance or not. Before the enactment of the MHPA in 1996, an employer who chose to include mental health coverage could also decide what amounts to allocate to it. As a consequence, a health insurance plan could have a provision of a million dollars for surgery, but a meager thousand dollars for mental health. Needless to say, these amounts were never enough for good mental treatment.
At the time of its enactment, the MHPA was supposed to expire in 2001. But every time it neared expiry, it was amended and its tenure extended. Thus it has been amended five times, the last of which took place in February 2007. Now, it is meant to last till December 2007. The employees should have their fingers crossed for it to be extended again, or be replaced by another law that is meant to stay for good, since it is in their collective benefit.
The greater part of American workers with insurance is covered by employee benefit plans. The federal government has a dedicated agency to enforce the laws regarding employee benefits and pension plans. It is called the Employee Benefits Security Administration, or EBSA. Approximately, a little more than 150 million workers are covered under EBSA plans. As is apparent from its name, the agency handles as many violations of law concerning health care as pensions.
The continuation of medical coverage is an important consideration when an employee goes on leave under the Arizona FMLA law. Most workers pay their health insurances through payroll deductions, but when they are on unpaid leave, they stop paying. A common way to solve this problem is to make an agreement that the employer will continue paying the insurance premiums. The employee must repay the employee with salary deductions when they return to work.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that protects employees from losing their jobs when they have to take time off to deal with an emergency. Prior to the enactment of this law, an employee could lose their job if he or she had to leave the workplace to attend to a personal or family crisis. Under certain conditions, the FMLA allows the worker to take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave. Some of the situations that are covered by the law are health emergencies (of the employee, a parent or a child), the birth of a baby, and the placement of a foster child.
At this time of year, with Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, it’s a great time to keep the FMLA laws in mind. Posters with information on the benefits must be placed at a visible location in every office in the country. Nobody is exempt from family emergencies or hard times. Anyone can have an accident or become ill. This law exists to protect our jobs in times of trial.
The law usually referred to as the Arizona FMLA is actually a federal law. Some other states have opted to adopt separate FMLA laws. Often, those laws offer greater job protection or even paid benefits for workers on leave. In other states, FMLA laws extend similar benefits to state workers. Time spent on active military duty also counts towards hours at work to qualify for FMLA.
If you’re an employer, you might want to double check your Arizona employee benefit package, in light of a new federal law.
The MHPA bill was recently extended to December 31, 2007. Originally, the MHPA bill passed in 1996 included a provision to expire on September 30, 2001. However, the law has been amended 5 times, extending it. Recently the MHPA was again extended and it’s a safe bet that this law will be with us for many years. Under the MHPA, mental health treatments must receive parity with other types of treatment.
Most group health insurance plans today offer some coverage for mental health treatments. Usually these include visits to a licensed therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. They may also include stints in rehab for drug or alcohol dependency. Stays in mental hospitals or the mental health wing of a hospital for ailments as diverse as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and schizophrenia are also covered.
Before the MHPA was passed in 1996, many group health care plans set low annual limits for mental health treatments. A health insurance plan that paid up to $150,000 per year for surgery might pay only $1,750 per year for mental health treatment. Today, that would be illegal. The plan would have to pay the same amount for both types of treatment. In other words, a plan that sets a $150,000 annual limit on surgery would also have to pay up to $150,000 per year for mental health treatments.
The federal government has a specials agency to enforce law regarding employee benefits and pension plans, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, or ESBA. Most Americans with insurance are covered by employee benefit plans. More than 150 million workers are covered under ESBA plans. The current name reflects the reality that the agency now handles as many violations of law concerning health care as pensions.