Labor Department Releases FAQs on Mental Health Parity Compliance

by Rebecca Farley on May 10, 2012

Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, Head of EBSA

The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has posted a set of frequently asked questions and answers on implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

The FAQs address a variety of topics, including:

  • It is permissible for a health plan to define mental health coverage as consisting solely of inpatient care benefits?
  • Does my health plan violate MHPAEA because it uses a separate managed behavioral health organization to provide utilization review and other services with respect to mental health and/or substance abuse benefits (sometimes called a carve-out arrangement)?
  • How does MHPAEA interact with State mandates?

The FAQs clarify that if a plan covers mental health or substance use disorder benefits in one of the six coverage classifications under MHPAEA, the plan must provide coverage in all of the classifications in which medical/surgical benefits are available. A plan that provides medical/surgical benefits on an outpatient basis may not limit mental health or substance use disorder benefits to inpatient care only.

Other questions dealt with who oversees implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA); how the law interacts with state mandates; which plans are exempt from MHPAEA; and what DOL, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services are doing to promote compliance with the law.

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