Weekend update

The Federal Benefits Open Season begins tomorrow and OPM’s Open Season website is ready to go.

OPM posted its 2013 federal employee viewpoint survey results last week.  The survey discloses that 28% of the 354,000 survey employees use their heath and wellness programs and 14% use the employee assistance program (“EAP”).  Surprisingly less than 5% use available childcare and eldercare programs. Govexec.com takes a broader look at the survey results here.

Federal regulators issued final mental health parity rules on Friday. The new rules, which principally tweak the current mental health parity requirements applicable to FEHB plans and other large group health plans. The new rules  will become applicable to the FEHBP in 2015. In the meantime the interim final rules that took effect in 2011 will continue in force. (The FEHBlog was distraught to discover that the Labor Department reorganized its Affordable Care Act page (more compressed means more clicks — maybe the page will become easier to use over time).

Business Insurance points out that the final mental health parity rule’s major change is applicable to small group plans. The mental health parity law which was enacted as part of TARP in 2008 created an exemption for small group plans (< 50 employees).  The ACA regulators have required mental health coverage and compliance with the mental health parity rule as part of the ACA’s essential health benefit requirements.  Thus the final rule “wipes out” the small group plan exemption found in the 2008 law.