FAQ: Which group health plans are subject to MHPAEA?
January 04, 2023
Most group health plans and insurers that provide either mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits in addition to medical/surgical benefits (MED/SURG) are subject to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). This means plans and insurers cannot impose financial requirements (e.g., deductibles, copays, coinsurance or out-of-pocket maximums), quantitative treatment limitations (e.g., number of covered days, visits or treatments) or non-quantitative treatment limitations (e.g., coverage exclusions, prior authorization requirements, medical necessity guidelines or network restrictions) on MH/SUD benefits that are more restrictive than those applied to MED/SURG benefits. In other words, MH/SUD benefits must be provided in parity with MED/SURG benefits. MHPAEA applies to both fully insured and self-insured plans. There are limited exemptions from MHPAEA, including:
- Self-insured plans with 50 or fewer employees (including employees of related employers in a controlled group).
- Stand-alone retiree-only medical plan that does not cover current employees.
Church plans are not exempt from MHPAEA.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (CAA 2023) sunset a MHPAEA opt-out for self-insured non-federal governmental group health plans. As of September 2022, 229 group health plans covering municipal employees, public school teachers, firefighters, police and public healthcare workers were opting out of MHPAEA. With the enactment of the CAA 2023, new opt-out elections are no longer permitted and existing elections expiring on or after June 30, 2023, cannot be renewed.