5 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN DESIGNING MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Mental health benefits are expected to play a larger role in employee benefits packages from 2021 forward. If nothing else, the coronavirus crisis has given rise to a greater demand for mental health services as workers try to cope with the added stress the crisis has created. If your company is currently designing mental health benefits for 2021’s package, tread lightly and seek out the help of an experienced broker.
A broker with access to a reputable general agency is your best bet. BenefitMall, a general agency with years of experience in the benefits space, recommends asking the following five questions as you work with your broker to come up with something:
1. What will the co-pays and deductibles be?
Money is always a part of these types of decisions. There is no way around it. Where mental health benefits are concerned, a big question relates to co-pays and deductibles. Simply put, consumers are less likely to utilize mental health benefits if their budgets are already stretched thin.
Co-pays and deductibles could make a mental health plan useless. Employees could end up paying their portion in premiums but never actually use the services because co-pays and deductibles are too much. A benefit of this type would be a wasted benefit.
2. Are there treatment limitations?
Hand-in-hand with co-pays and deductibles are limitations on treatment. Just how much do you want to offer in a mental health plan? Do you want comprehensive or supplemental benefits? It is best to work these things out with your broker well in advance of choosing a plan. If you know what you are looking for before you go into it, actually finding a suitable plan should be easier.
3. Are there enough network providers?
Given that a mental health plan is likely to be offered in conjunction with standard health insurance, employers should be asking whether or not there are enough network providers to make a mental health plan viable. An insufficient number of providers could lead employees to seek out-of-network care – care which will almost always cost more.
4. Do plans adhere to new EEOC rules?
Next, employers need to know if the plans they are looking at adhere to the EEOC’s new wellness rules for employers. Though the rules are not officially in effect, they could be by the start of this year or next. They address a variety of issues ranging from privacy protections to de minimis incentives to the ADA’s safe harbor exemption.
A plan chosen for 2021 will probably not be affected by the new rules. It is too late in the game for that. But if rules are finalized in 2021, it would apply to 2022. Better to get a compliant plan now if possible. That will mean fewer headaches in preparation for next year’s open enrollment.
5. Are there any other benefits you deem more important?
Finally, mental health benefits are just one option for expanding a benefits package for 2021. Ask yourself whether or not there are other benefits you deem more important. Better yet, ask your employees what they think. As much as they might appreciate mental health benefits, some of them might prefer a more comprehensive health insurance plan instead.
The thing about employee benefits is that they are intensely personal. What is important to one employee may not be important to another. You know that, which is why you work with a broker to come up with a benefits package with the broadest appeal. Nonetheless, do not just assume your workers want mental health benefits. They might prefer something else entirely.