Florida employee benefit has no legal provision for mental health coverage. Although there is a substantial number of employers who do provide mental health coverage as a part of group insurance, but there are many who do not. Even inpatient or outpatient treatment in a hospital may or may not be a part of your health plan.
But in case an employer does offer mental health coverage as a part of a group insurance plan, there are several laws governing it. One that merits special mention is Mental Health Parity Act or MHPA. The Mental Health Parity Act requires that any group health insurance plan that funds mental health treatment, cover it at the same level as other medical treatments, including surgery.
The MHPA has undergone several amendments since its enactment. It was passed in 1996 with a provision to expire on September 30, 2001. Numerous extensions followed, and in February 2007, it was extended up to December 31, 2007. Considering the history of amendments and extensions in MHPA, it would be safe to assume that this law will remain in effect for quite some time to come.
Before 1996, many healthcare plans had very small provisions for mental health coverage. For instance, a plan that provided $100,000 for surgery could have only a provision of only a thousand dollars for mental health. Such small amounts could barely cover counseling, let alone more thorough treatment. But thanks to MHPA, it would be illegal now to have such small provisions for mental health. The law requires that mental health treatments must receive parity with other types of treatment.
A large number of American citizens with insurance are covered by employee benefit plans. The federal government has a dedicated agency to enforce the laws regarding employee benefits and pension plans. It is known as the Employee Benefits Security Administration, or EBSA. More than 150 million workers are covered under EBSA plans. The current name reflects the reality that the agency now handles as many violations of law concerning health care as pensions.
It is because of the MHPA, Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, that mental health treatments must receive equality with other types of treatment. The initial bill that was passed in 1996 was due to expire on September 30, 2001. It has been amended five times, including just this passed February, which extended the act until December 31st this year. MHPA requires that group health insurance plans that fund mental health treatments cover it at the same level as other medical treatments.
Some people may be wondering why their Florida employee benefits don’t insure mental health treatments. Of course, it is not the case for most people, since many insurance plans do cover mental health. For those that may not be covered for psychological treatment, it’s not against the law. There is no state or federal law that requires group health insurance to cover mental health treatments. The MHPA simply regulates those plans that do offer coverage for psychotherapy, counseling, or other mental health treatments.
The federal EBSA, meaning Employee Benefits Security Administration, handles violations regarding health care and pensions. A majority of workers in the United States are covered by employee benefit plans. There are over 150 million people who are protected by the EBSA. If there was a violation concerning mental health coverage, they would be the ones to deal with it, as well as pension law.
Under the MHPA, annual limits on mental health coverage have to match those limits of other medical coverage. A low limit for mental treatment, for example, would have to be the same as the limit for surgery. If the limit for surgery is higher than the limit for mental health, the plan is in violation of the law. Basically, if a plan is going to cover mental health, it has to be covered equally. Otherwise, the only other legal move is not to offer coverage for it all together.