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Legislation Signed into Law

2018

Primary Focus: Eating Disorders
Title/Description: Resolution recognizing National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Citation: 2018 AL SJR 76
Summary: Resolution focuses on expanding the conversation around eating disorders to include the diverse perspectives of millions of people affected; eating disorders are shrouded in stigma, secrecy, and stereotypes. Bill notes that eating disorders are serious conditions that are potentially life-threatening and have a great impact on a person’s physical and emotional health, signs and symptoms are often overlooked, and many are unaware of the devastating mental and physical consequences of eating disorders as well as the pressures, attitudes, and behaviors which shape them. The Resolution officially recognized February 26 through March 4, 2018 as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Effective Date: Bill enacted March 13, 2018. By definition the effective dates ran from February 26 through March 2018.
Notes: Summary included here because Alabama has not done much in enacting parity legislation similar to the federal parity law.

2015

Primary Focus: Mental Health Coverage for Minors
Title/Description: Parents or legal guardian, authorize treatment for mental health service, including commitment to mental health facility, where minor refused
Citation: AL Stat Act no. Act No. 2015-476
Summary: Allows a parent or a legal guardian to authorize mental health treatment even when the minor at least 14 years of age or under 19 has expressly refused treatment. Parent or legal guardian, along with mental health professional, must determine that the recommended clinical intervention is necessary and appropriate. Assess to minor medical record will follow HIPAA requirements.
Effective Date: Enacted on June 4, 2015, went into effect September 2015.
Notes: Before the enactment of this law, minors 14 or older could deny treatment irrespective of the parent or guardian’s position. Law came effective on the third month after enactment. A statutory cite could not be identified. Enacted by Senate Bill 142 (2015).

2012

SB 283
Introduced: 2/2012
Sponsor: Sen. Ward
Status: Signed into law 5/2012
Summary: This bill created the section of the state insurance law about autism coverage. This section is summarized at the bottom of this page in the “Alabama Parity Law” section.

Alabama Parity Law

The sections of Alabama law relevant to parity are found in the state insurance law. There is a section about mental health coverage and a section about autism coverage. Substance use disorder services are excluded.

Mental Health

It is not possible to provide direct links to sections of Alabama law due to the functionality of the state’s website. To find the section on mental health coverage go to this link and then click on the left side of the page click on Title 27; then click on chapter 54. You can then click on each subsection of this section.

This section (27-54-4) requires large employer fully-insured plans to offer optional mental health coverage that large employers can accept or reject. Small employer plans and individual plans do not have to comply with this section of the insurance law.

This section (27-54-4) includes all mental health conditions listed in the mental disorders section of International Classification of Diseases . However, it explicitly states that substance use disorders are excluded. It also specifically mentions these conditions:

  • Schizophrenia, schizophrenia form disorder, schizoaffective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders

This section (27-54-3) makes clear that inpatient care, outpatient care, and partial hospitalization (“day treatment”) are included. These services must be on “terms and conditions that are no less extensive” than other medical services.

The section (27-54-4) also states that insurance plans must “use the same criteria” for medical necessity for mental health treatment as they use for other medical treatment.

Each plan affected by this section (27-54-6) of the law is required to file an annual cost report with the Commissioner of Insurance that includes “certification of parity in mental health benefits.”

Autism

It is not possible to provide direct links to sections of Alabama law due to the functionality of the state’s website. To find the section on autism coverage go to this link and then click on the left side of the page click on Title 27; then click on chapter 54A. You can then click on each subsection of this section.

This section requires large employer fully-insured plans to offer optional autism coverage for children through age 9 that large employers can accept or reject. It defines autism spectrum disorder as any pervasive developmental disorder listed in the DSM and specifically mentions:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Asperger’s Disorder
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified

Treatment for autism spectrum disorder is defined as:

  • Behavioral health treatment
  • Psychiatric care
  • Psychological care
  • Therapeutic care
  • Pharmacy care

All of these are defined in more detail in this section of the law.

This optional coverage is required to include a $36,000 annual maximum for applied behavior analysis, which will be adjusted for inflation each year.

Annual maximums, lifetime maximums, deductibles, and coinsurance must be the same as what is in place for other medical services.

Insurance plans are only allowed to review a child’s treatment plan once every 6 months.

Get Support

Alabama Insurance Division

Common Violations

In seeking care or services, be aware of the common ways parity rights can be violated.

Common Violations

Definition

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