Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Employers get mental, see the light

As we've noted many times, mandates increase insurance costs. But when is a mandate not really a mandate? As Mr Miyagi said in the second Karate Kid movie: "Best way to avoid punch, no be there." And so it is with the Mental Health Parity mandate; the law, enacted in 2008, requires that group plans which offer any mental health benefits must treat mental health-related claims the same as any other illness. That means no internal caps or restrictions on, say, in-patient days or out-patient counseling. Of course, this leads to increased claims, and even higher premiums.

What to do, what to do?

Well, if you're the Screen Actors Guild or the Plumbers Welfare Fund, you notice the little "out:" if you don't offer any mental health benefits, you don't have to worry about "parity."

And that's just the (sensible) conclusion to which these two groups, among others, have come:

"The guild's health plan represents one of a small number of unions, employers and insurers that are scrapping such benefits for their enrollees because of a 2008 law that requires that mental-health and substance-abuse benefits, if offered, be as robust as medical or surgical benefits. By dropping such coverage, providers can circumvent the requirements."

See, that wasn't so difficult.

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]
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