Federal regulators will make employers that want to get out of the mental health parity requirements go through a rigorous testing and documentation process.
In theory, the law lets employers get out of complying with the parity requirements if they can show complying has increased their costs at least 2 percent during the first plan year in which the requirements apply or at least 1 percent in later plan years.
To qualify for that exemption, an employer normally will have to come up with five years of plan spending data, and a note certifying benefits cost increases “certified by a qualified and licensed actuary who is a member in good standing of the American Academy of Actuaries,” officials say in the preamble to the new final regulations, for the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).
Officials at three departments — the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Labor Department, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — based the final regulations on temporary regulations released in 2010. The departments are preparing to publish the final rule in the Federal Register Nov. 13.
The regulations would start to take effect in the first plan or policy year starting on or after July 1, 2014.