HealthPartners fined $150,000 for violating mental health parity laws

HealthPartners will have to pay a $150,000 fine imposed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce after it was discovered the company violated mental health parity laws.

A news release from the Minnesota Department of Commerce states that a market conduct exam alleges that HealthPartners violated mental health parity laws “by evaluating mental health and substance abuse claims more stringently than claims for other types of care.”

The resulting consent order also alleges that HealthPartners did not “adequately analyze or justify reimbursement rates for mental health or substance abuse treatments that were lower than comparable medical procedures.”

State and federal parity laws bar health insurers from making mental and behavioral health care more difficult to obtain than treatment for other health conditions.

“Access to mental health care has never been more important,” Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said in the news release. “We are committed to ensuring Minnesotans get mental health and substance abuse care when they need it. That means holding insurers accountable and targeting obstacles that may make mental health care more difficult to access than other medical care. We’ll continue to make sure all insurers abide by Minnesota law.”

HealthPartners shared the following statement in response to the consent order:

“We share the Commerce Department’s goal of mental health parity and have agreed on a collaborative path forward to address the Department’s concerns. We look forward to continuing our efforts to make meaningful improvements to mental health care and coverage for our members and the community.”

— HealthPartners

According to the news release, the consent order alleges that HealthPartners violated parity laws by excluding some coverage for residential mental health treatment before 2018. It also alleges that HealthPartners did not document its internal coverage reviews or meet required timelines and that the company reconsidered its denials of claims for medical procedures more often than its denials of claims for mental health care.

The Department of Commerce adds that it considered HealthPartners’ cooperation during the exam when setting the $150,000 fine.

The news release states that the goal of the fine is to get HealthPartners to revamp its processes and policies in order to ensure the company’s coverage for mental health care is equal to coverage for surgical or medical care.