Final Rules Issued on Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

Issue Date:  November 2013

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The Department of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury Department issued final rules Friday, November 8, 2013 implementing the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).  These rules adopt and/or clarify many of the interim rules that were provided, aimed at expanding coverage of mental health and substance abuse in general and ensuring that health plan coverage is not more restrictive for mental health and substance abuse than for medical/surgical benefits.

Under the ACA, mental health and substance abuse benefits are considered ‘essential health benefits’ and therefore required to be included for fully-insured, small groups and individual coverage.  Large groups are not required to offer mental health and substance abuse benefits, but if they do, the coverage must not be less generous or more restrictive than what is provided for other medical/surgical benefits.

These final rules are effective for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2014. Until the final rules become applicable, plans and issuers must continue to comply with the mental health parity provisions of the interim final regulations.

For more information, including the final rules and a fact sheet in regards to MHPAEA, visit http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/mentalhealthparity/index.html.