Many people have questions regarding Hawaii employee benefits. They especially want to know if any law, state or federal, requires their group health insurance to cover mental health treatments. They are also inquiring if the insurer can set a low limits on payment for mental health treatment. The answers are a little more complex than the questions suggest, as with many questions concerning labor laws.
Okay, I will start off with the easy part first. Your group health insurance is not required by law to cover any mental health treatments. A majority of employers do offer coverage for therapy and counseling, but there are still many that do not. It is not uncommon for mental health facility care, inpatient and outpatient, to be excluded from benefits.
There are some laws that govern mental health coverage, should an employer choose to offer it. For example, the Mental Health Parity Act, or MHPA, states that mental health treatment must be funded at the same amount other medical treatments are covered.
The MHPA bill was originally passed in 1996 has been amended 5 times, and was extended each time it was changes. The most recent extension was made this February, and it will be valid until New Year’s Eve at the end of this year. It wouldn’t be crazy to suggest that it will continue to be extended.
It used to be that many group health care plans had very low annual limits for mental health treatment. That was before the MHPA bill in 1996. It would be against the law today, for example, if a group health care plan paid up to $50,000 in surgery coverage, but only $10,000 for mental health. The Mental Health Parity Act requires services for mental health to be covered at the same level as other mental coverage.