New York and Montana both have mental health parity (“MHP”) laws. The purpose of MHP laws is to ensure that people with mental health problems are treated the same as people with physical problems. Surprisingly, Montana MHP laws provide greater protection for those afflicted with mental health issues than New York does.
A few days ago, a federal judge in Montana ruled that Montana’s MHP law requires group disability plans to provide claimants with the same benefits for a mental illness as it would if the disability were due to a physical impairment. While New York’s MHP requires group health plans to provide equal coverage regardless of whether the impairment being treated is mental or physical, New York’s MHP does not require group disability plans to provide equal coverage.
The difference in the States’ MHP is significant because the overwhelming vast majority of group disability plans limit benefits for 12-24 months for mental impairments. In Montana, Sand-Smith v. Liberty Life Life ruled that group disability insurers cannot enforce plan provisions that limit benefits if the claimant’s impairment is mental. New Yorkers currently lack the same protection.
New Yorkers should contact Attorney General Schneiderman’s office and the State’s Department of Financial Services to advocate for expansion of the MHP law to apply to disability plans in addition to health plans.Previous Next
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