If you are a worker, you should be aware of a recent ruling that affects the way you are covered for mental health related conditions. The Mental Health Parity Act, or MHPA has recently been extended through December 31, 2007.
This will have important relevance to Kentucky employee benefit plans.
Originally, the bill was signed into law in 1996 with a “sunset clause that meant that it expired on September 31, 2001. The law has been amended 5 times since that date, to extend the expiration date of the bill.
But what does this mean to most workers?
The Mental Health Parity Act states that mental health must receive the same amount of coverage in group health insurance plans, as medical conditions, including surgery.
It is no longer legal for these amounts to differ, so, if for example, your plan covers you up to $250,000 for medical conditions, but only $15,000 for mental health conditions, this would be illegal.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration is the federal agency that ensures that laws relating to health insurance and pensions are adhered to. It reports that the Mental Health Parity Act will apply to more than 150 million workers in the United States.
If you are one of those workers covered by this law, then it means that you can use the cover for a number of treatments relating to mental health.
This includes admissions to hospital for mental health related conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Schizophrenia, amongst other conditions is also covered, as are visits to a psychologist or another licensed therapist, and psychiatric treatment. Stays in a rehab center are also covered.
However, the Mental Health Parity Act only covers group health insurance plans that cover mental health. It is not a requirement that plans cover this area of health. But if your plan already covers mental health, then it is now a legal requirement that the amount of cover for medical and mental health is equal.