Mental health parity requires health plans to treat mental health and substance abuse the same as other medical conditions, and the U.S. Department of Labor(DOL)has made enforcing the law a priority.

Attorneys at Jackson Lewis have put together an article explaining what that means for employers. It’s the highlight of the Employee Benefits Newsletter for the summer.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 prohibits group health plans and health insurance issuers from imposing more stringent requirements and limitations on mental health and substance use disorder benefits than those placed upon benefits for medical conditions or surgical procedures.

In its most recent compliance report, the DOL reported that 50 percent of group health plans it investigated were found to have parity violations. The DOL has emphasized enforcement will continue to be a priority in the coming year and it intends to establish a task force to target parity violations.

Treatment limitations include quantitative treatment limitations, which are numerically expressed (such as 50 outpatient visits per year), and nonquantitative treatment limitations, which limit the scope or duration of benefits for treatment.

Earlier this year, the three federal agencies responsible for enforcement — the DOL, U.S. Health and Human Services Department, and the U.S. Treasury — issued guidance on nonquantitative treatment limitations parity standards.

The summer newsletter includes a roundup of the most recent legal developments impacting employee health benefits.

Read more.