Human Resources
Government Modifies Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Rules

Government Modifies Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Rules


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Final regulations requiring parity in the treatment of mental illnesses and substance use disorders by employer-sponsored group health plans will require employers to revisit earlier decisions/analysis for determining parity, but likely will not require significant changes to plan designs. The final regulations are generally applicable for plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2014 (January 1, 2015 for calendar year plans). Until the applicability date of the final regulations, group health plans and issuers must continue to comply with the interim final regulations.

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (the “MHP Act,” P.L. 110-343) expanded the mental health parity requirements that had been in place since 1996. The MHP Act generally prohibits group health plans that provide mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits from imposing more restrictive financial requirements or treatment limitations on MH/SUD benefits than on medical/surgical benefits.

The final regulations were jointly released by the Departments of Labor (DOL), Treasury, and Health and Human Services (HHS) (the Departments) on November 8, 2013. On the same day, the DOL also issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) XVII regarding implementation of the MHP Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act). The interim final regulations were published by the Departments almost four years ago, in February of 2010.

This Aon Hewitt bulletin provides an overview of the final mental health parity regulations.

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