For many, mental health benefits have represented a significant unreimbursed medical expense. The coverage for these benefits varies widely among health insurance plans, yet has often not been on par with medical and surgical services. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 could change that for more than 100 million Americans.
The idea behind this bill is to create parity between these two kinds of services. That is not to say the health insurance plans must offer mental health benefits, but if the plans do offer them, the reimbursements must be equal. The new legislation applies to employer sponsored plans for businesses with more than 50 employees where mental health benefits are provided. Mental health services will also be eligible for out-of-network coverage.
Those health insurance plans that are already in compliance with the new regulations can remain as is. Where there is inequality among the medical and mental services, employers will be required to adjust the deductibles and co-payments so that they are identical. There are any number of ways by which an employer can eliminate this disparity so that the reimbursements are the same. Depending upon how the adjustment is implemented may affect health insurance premiums.
Can this benefit help you or a family member? Individuals who use these benefits could see a reduction in deductibles and copayments if they work for a business with more than 50 employees and participate in an employer sponsored health insurance plan. In addition, with the limits reduced, people may find it easier to seek treatment for chronic behavioral conditions.
The new law is effective for new plan years, so most will not see the impact until after January. It will become a critical component of future health care expenses. For additional information, contact EABHealthworks.