The Mental Health Parity Act, or MHPA, requires health insurers to cover mental health at same level of other medical treatments, including surgery. That means that if an insurance plan offers mental health coverage, it must offer the same level of coverage for mental health treatments as for other types of treatment.
There are many questions regarding Ohio employee benefits. Many people want to know if their group health insurance is required to cover mental treatments. Others ask if the insurer can pay a low amount for mental health treatments and a higher amount for other medical treatments. Although the MHPA bill deals directly with this issue, the answer is not easy.
There is no law that forces insurers to cover mental health treatments. The MHPA bill requires that if the insurance covers mental health, the payments must be comparable to other types of health treatments.
The MHPA came into effect in 1996 but was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2001. But it is still valid because the deadline was postponed 5 times. The most recent extension was in February 2007. The new expiration date is December 31, 2007, but probably it will be extended again.
Prior to 1996, when the MHPA was approved, insurances could pay a different amount for mental health treatments. Many insurers paid less for any type of mental health treatment. Today, that practice is not permitted, and plans must pay the same amount for both types of treatment.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration, or ESBA, is the federal government agency in charge of the enforcing the law regarding employee benefits and pension plans. The agency now handles violations of the law regarding health care and pensions. The ESBA today enforces the law for plans that cover more than 150 million workers.
Mental health treatments are covered in many healthcare plans offered by employers, including treatment in or out of a hospital. However, there are still many plans that don’t cover any type of mental health treatment.