The Department of Health and Human Services today released a final rule pertaining to standards related to essential health benefits, actuarial value and accreditation of health plans. The rule spells out the administration's final core set of mandatory covered health benefits, and provides guidance on benefits required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are not typically found in current employer benefit plans, as well as a standard method for computing the actuarial value of each health plan for consumer comparison purposes. The rule also finalizes a timeline for qualified health plans to be accredited in federally facilitated health insurance exchanges and amends regulations providing an application process for recognizing additional accrediting entities to certify qualified health plans. In addition, HHS released a report detailing how the rule applies to mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal laws requiring that mental health benefits be provided at parity with other health benefits in the individual and small group markets. The rule will be published in the Feb. 25 Federal Register.