The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) requires that if a group health plan offers coverage for mental health or substance use disorder benefits, the financial requirements and treatment limitations for those benefits can be no more restrictive than the predominant requirements and limitations applied to substantially all medical/surgical benefits. This applies to private and public sector employers with more than 50 employees, including self-insured as well as fully insured plans.
This law supplements the pre-existing Mental Health Parity Law (MHPA) of 1996, which required parity with respect to aggregate lifetime and annual dollar limits for mental health benefits, but did not include the same protection for substance use disorder benefits. MHPAEA’s interim final rule further amends certain provisions in MHPA. For example, plans are only permitted to manage the mental health and substance use benefit so long as they do not do so in a discriminatory manner.
MHPAEA would ensure that large group health insurance and Medicaid plans provide coverage for mental or substance-use disorders equal to coverage offered for physical ailments. Implementation of final regulations that would determine how the Act is to be administered and enforcing compliance with the Act would make Mental Health Parity a reality.