Health plans fined over failure to offer mental health coverage

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 21, 2012

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

New York State for the first time has penalized insurers that do not offer small businesses the option to buy mental health coverage or special coverage for emotionally disturbed children, as required by a law that took effect in 2007.

The state’s Dept. of Financial Services fined UnitedHealth Group subsidiaries UnitedHealthcare and Oxford Heath Insurance $1.3 million; WellPoint subsidiary Empire BlueCross BlueShield, $480,440; Health Net, $260,680; MVP Health Plan, $215,630; Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York, $187,570; Independent Health, $112,350; and HealthNow New York, $101,640.

All of the companies said the violations were not the result of a deliberate effort to evade the requirements and agreed to take steps to ensure compliance.

The rule, known as Timothy’s Law, was named for a 12-year-old boy who committed suicide in 2001. His parents had been unable to get him the mental health treatment he needed, according to the department’s news release.

Under New York law, all employers must cover 30 days of inpatient and 20 outpatient visits for mental health treatment. Large employers must provide coverage of mental health services for children at a level comparable to other illnesses, and small businesses with 50 or fewer workers must be given the option to buy the coverage at an additional cost. These requirements exceed the federal mental health parity law that took effect in 2010.

Note: This item originally appeared at

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn