The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires group health plans that cover more than 50 workers to have mental health and substance use disorders coverage on par with coverage for physical ailments if those plans offer mental health and substance use disorder coverage.

But, like many laws affecting employee benefit plans, it’s not an easy one for employers to navigate. The American Psychiatric Foundation and its Partnership for Workplace Mental Health this week released an updated version of the Employer Guide for Compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The publication provides employers a concise guide to the parity law, its final regulations and how it is affected by the Affordable Care Act.

Also see: Mental health focus of new workplace campaign

The employer guide is designed to help employers assure compliance with the law by their health plan vendors. Employers are liable for noncompliance with the law and subject to potentially significant penalties – as high as $100 per member per day of noncompliance. The mental health parity law affects an estimated 113 million people, including 82 million enrolled in self-insured health plans.

The guide, which can be downloaded at, also addresses the new regulations under the Affordable Care Act relating to mental health parity, including disclosing plan information and providing for internal review and external appeals.

“Employers will find this guide a valuable tool in navigating the requirements of federal law relating to mental health parity,” says Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., APF chairman. “But more importantly, the guide will help employers ensure their employees are getting the mental health care they need.”

Also see: Americans unaware of mental health parity law

The guide was prepared by Milliman, Inc. in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association and the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health.

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