If you are an employer that provides health insurance plan cover for your workers, you need to make yourself aware of the implications of the recent ruling by the Employee Benefits Security Administration. This ruling will affect over 150 million workers throughout the US, so it is advisable to ensure that you understand what it means to you as an employer.
The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) has been extended through December 31, 2007. This is after 5 amendments, which extended the original expiration date of September 31, 2001. The original bill was signed into law in 1996.
The ruling, which will have significant effects on Idaho employee benefit plans, means that if you, as an employer, offer your workers a group health insurance plan, it must cover mental and medical health equally.
However, this only applies to group health insurance plans that cover both medical and mental health. If both are not covered in the plan then it does not apply to that plan.
If, as is most common, both medical and mental health is covered in the plan, it means that, under the MHPA, it is now illegal to cover medical health up to $250,000 and mental health cover to be capped at $15,000.
The types of mental health conditions that your workers may suffer from, and are included include stays in rehab for alcohol and drug dependency, hospital admission for various mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and depression, as well as visits to a psychiatrist or psychologist as well as seeking treatment from a licensed therapist.
The MHPA also applies to annual or lifetime caps on the benefit amount.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration is the federal agency responsible for making sure that the MHPA is adhered to. It is the employers responsibility to ensure that the health plan they offer complies to the recent ruling and that they and their workers understand the implications.