The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is charged with ensuring that plans comply with ERISA, including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). EBSA recently released its MHPAEA report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. We provide below highlights from EBSA’s report and also note some comparisons to FY 2018.
In FY 2019, EBSA investigated and closed 186 health plan investigations (nearly all of the plans were subject to the MHPAEA) and cited 12 MHPAEA violations. By comparison, in FY 2018, EBSA investigated and closed 285 health plan investigations (less than half of the plans were subject to the MHPAEA) and cited 21 MHPAEA violations.
EBSA reported that it in FY 2019 it investigated MHPAEA violations in the following six categories:
(1) Annual dollar limits on the total amount of specified benefits that may be paid in a 12-month period under a group health plan or health insurance coverage for any coverage unit (such as self-only or family coverage);
(2) Aggregate lifetime dollar limits on the total amount of specified benefits that may be paid under a group health plan or health insurance coverage for any coverage unit;
(3) The requirement that if a plan or issuer provides mental health or substance use disorder benefits in any classification described in the regulations, then such benefits must be provided in every classification in which medical/surgical benefits are provided;
(4) Financial requirements relating to deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and/or out-of-pocket maximums;
(5) Quantitative and nonquantitative treatment limitations; and
(6) Cumulative financial requirements and quantitative treatment limitations that determine whether or to what extent benefits are provided based on certain accumulated amounts, including deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and annual or lifetime day or visit limits.
The cited violations included: 5 non-quantitative treatment limitations, 5 quantitative treatment limitations, 1 benefits in all classifications, and 1 in cumulative financial requirements and quantitative treatment limitations.
A copy of EBSA’s report is available at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/EBSA/laws-and-regulations/laws/mental-health-parity/mhpaea-enforcement-2019.pdf.
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The uptick in EBSA investigations of plans subject to MHPAEA appears to be consistent with the uptick in litigation activity we have seen challenging plan rules as not being in compliance with MHPAEA. As such, plan sponsors and fiduciaries are well advised to review their plan terms to ensure compliance with MHPAEA.