58-51-50. Coverage for chemical dependency treatment.

(a) As used in this section, the term "chemical dependency" means the pathological use or abuse of alcohol or other drugs in a manner or to a degree that produces an impairment in personal, social or occupational functioning and which may, but need not, include a pattern of tolerance and withdrawal.

(b) Every insurer that writes a policy or contract of group or blanket health insurance or group or blanket accident and health insurance that is issued, renewed, or amended on or after January 1, 1985, shall offer to its insureds benefits for the necessary care and treatment of chemical dependency that are not less favorable than benefits for physical illness generally. Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, benefits for treatment of chemical dependency shall be subject to the same durational limits, dollar limits, deductibles, and coinsurance factors as are benefits for physical illness generally.

(c) Every group policy or group contract of insurance that provides benefits for chemical dependency treatment and that provides total annual benefits for all illnesses in excess of eight thousand dollars ($8,000) is subject to the following conditions:

(1) The policy or contract shall provide, for each 12-month period, a minimum benefit of eight thousand dollars ($8,000) for the necessary care and treatment of chemical dependency.

(2) The policy or contract shall provide a minimum benefit of sixteen thousand dollars ($16,000) for the necessary care and treatment of chemical dependency for the life of the policy or contract.

(d) Provisions for benefits for necessary care and treatment of chemical dependency in group policies or group contracts of insurance shall provide benefit payments for the following providers of necessary care and treatment of chemical dependency:

(1) The following units of a general hospital licensed under Article 5 of General Statutes Chapter 131E:

a. Chemical dependency units in facilities licensed after October 1, 1984;

b. Medical units;

c. Psychiatric units; and

(2) The following facilities or programs licensed after July 1, 1984, under Article 2 of General Statutes Chapter 122C:

a. Chemical dependency units in psychiatric hospitals;

b. Chemical dependency hospitals;

c. Residential chemical dependency treatment facilities;

d. Social setting detoxification facilities or programs;

e. Medical detoxification or programs; and

(3) Duly licensed physicians and duly licensed practicing psychologists and certified professionals working under the direct supervision of such physicians or psychologists in facilities described in (1) and (2) above and in day/night programs or outpatient treatment facilities licensed after July 1, 1984, under Article 2 of General Statutes Chapter 122C.

Provided, however, that nothing in this subsection shall prohibit any policy or contract of insurance from requiring the most cost effective treatment setting to be utilized by the person undergoing necessary care and treatment for chemical dependency.

(e) Coverage for chemical dependency treatment as described in this section shall not be applicable to any group policy holder or group contract holder who rejects the coverage in writing.

(f) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, a group health benefit plan that covers both medical and surgical benefits and chemical dependency treatment benefits shall, with respect to the chemical dependency treatment benefits, comply with all applicable standards of Subtitle B of Title V of Public Law 110-343, known as the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

(g) Subsection (f) of this section applies only to a group health benefit plan covering a large employer as defined in G.S. 58-68-25(a)(10). (1983 (Reg. Sess., 1984), c. 1110, s. 7; 1985, c. 589, s. 43(a), (b); 1989, c. 175, s. 1; 1991, c. 720, s. 64; 2009-382, s. 20.)