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e-CFR data is current as of May 12, 2021

Title 45Subtitle ASubchapter BPart 156 → Subpart A


Title 45: Public Welfare
PART 156—HEALTH INSURANCE ISSUER STANDARDS UNDER THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, INCLUDING STANDARDS RELATED TO EXCHANGES


Subpart A—General Provisions


Contents
§156.10   Basis and scope.
§156.20   Definitions.
§156.50   Financial support.
§156.80   Single risk pool.

Source: 77 FR 18468, Mar. 27, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

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§156.10   Basis and scope.

(a) Basis. (1) This part is based on the following sections of title I of the Affordable Care Act:

(i) 1301. QHP defined.

(ii) 1302. Essential health benefits requirements.

(iii) 1303. Special rules.

(iv) 1304. Related definitions.

(v) 1311. Affordable choices of health benefit plans.

(vi) 1312. Consumer choice.

(vii) 1313. Financial integrity.

(viii) 1321. State flexibility in operation and enforcement of Exchanges and related requirements.

(ix) 1322. Federal program to assist establishment and operation of nonprofit, member-run health insurance issuers.

(x) 1331. State flexibility to establish Basic Health Programs for low-income individuals not eligible for Medicaid.

(xi) 1334. Multi-State plans.

(xii) 1402. Reduced cost-sharing for individuals enrolling in QHPs.

(xiii) 1411. Procedures for determining eligibility for Exchange participation, advance premium tax credits and reduced cost sharing, and individual responsibility exemptions.

(xiv) 1412. Advance determination and payment of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

(xv) 1413. Streamlining of procedures for enrollment through an Exchange and State, Medicaid, CHIP, and health subsidy programs.

(2) This part is based on section 1150A, Pharmacy Benefit Managers Transparency Requirements, of title I of the Act:

(b) Scope. This part establishes standards for QHPs under Exchanges, and addresses other health insurance issuer requirements.

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§156.20   Definitions.

The following definitions apply to this part, unless the context indicates otherwise:

Actuarial value (AV) means the percentage paid by a health plan of the percentage of the total allowed costs of benefits.

Applicant has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Base-benchmark plan means the plan that is selected by a State from the options described in §156.100(a) of this subchapter, or a default benchmark plan, as described in §156.100(c) of this subchapter, prior to any adjustments made pursuant to the benchmark standards described in §156.110 of this subchapter.

Benefit design standards means coverage that provides for all of the following:

(1) The essential health benefits as described in section 1302(b) of the Affordable Care Act;

(2) Cost-sharing limits as described in section 1302(c) of the Affordable Care Act; and

(3) A bronze, silver, gold, or platinum level of coverage as described in section 1302(d) of the Affordable Care Act, or is a catastrophic plan as described in section 1302(e) of the Affordable Care Act.

Benefit year has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subtitle.

Cost-sharing has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subtitle.

Cost-sharing reductions has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subtitle.

Delegated entity means any party, including an agent or broker, that enters into an agreement with a QHP issuer to provide administrative services or health care services to qualified individuals, qualified employers, or qualified employees and their dependents.

Downstream entity means any party, including an agent or broker, that enters into an agreement with a delegated entity or with another downstream entity for purposes of providing administrative or health care services related to the agreement between the delegated entity and the QHP issuer. The term “downstream entity” is intended to reach the entity that directly provides administrative services or health care services to qualified individuals, qualified employers, or qualified employees and their dependents.

EHB-benchmark plan means the standardized set of essential health benefits that must be met by a QHP, as defined in §155.20 of this section, or other issuer as required by §147.150 of this subchapter.

Enrollee satisfaction survey vendor means an organization that has relevant survey administration experience (for example, CAHPS® surveys), organizational survey capacity, and quality control procedures for survey administration.

Essential health benefits package or EHB package means the scope of covered benefits and associated limits of a health plan offered by an issuer that provides at least the ten statutory categories of benefits, as described in §156.110(a) of this subchapter; provides the benefits in the manner described in §156.115 of this subchapter; limits cost sharing for such coverage as described in §156.130; and subject to offering catastrophic plans as described in section 1302(e) of the Affordable Care Act, provides distinct levels of coverage as described in §156.140 of this subchapter.

Federally-facilitated SHOP has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Group health plan has the meaning given to the term in §144.103 of this subtitle.

Health insurance coverage has the meaning given to the term in §144.103 of this subtitle.

Health insurance issuer or issuer has the meaning given to the term in §144.103 of this subtitle.

Issuer group means all entities treated under subsection (a) or (b) of section 52 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as a member of the same controlled group of corporations as (or under common control with) a health insurance issuer, or issuers affiliated by the common use of a nationally licensed service mark.

Level of coverage means one of four standardized actuarial values as defined by section 1302(d)(1) of the Affordable Care Act of plan coverage.

Percentage of the total allowed costs of benefits means the anticipated covered medical spending for EHB coverage (as defined in §156.110(a) of this subchapter) paid by a health plan for a standard population, computed in accordance with the plan's cost-sharing, divided by the total anticipated allowed charges for EHB coverage provided to a standard population, and expressed as a percentage.

Plan has the meaning given the term in §144.103 of this subchapter.

Plan year has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Qualified employer has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Qualified health plan has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Qualified health plan issuer has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Qualified individual has the meaning given to the term in §155.20 of this subchapter.

Registered user of the enrollee satisfaction survey data warehouse means enrollee satisfaction survey vendors, QHP issuers, and Exchanges authorized to access CMS's secure data warehouse to submit survey data and to preview survey results prior to public reporting.

[77 FR 18468, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 77 FR 31515, May 29, 2012; 78 FR 12865, Feb. 25, 2013; 78 FR 15535, Mar. 11, 2013; 78 FR 54142, Aug. 30, 2013; 78 FR 65096, Oct. 30, 2013; 80 FR 10871, Feb. 27, 2015; 84 FR 17567, Apr. 25, 2019; 85 FR 29261, May 14, 2020]

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§156.50   Financial support.

Link to an amendment published at 86 FR 24290, May 5, 2021.

(a) Definitions. The following definitions apply for the purposes of this section:

Participating issuer means any issuer offering a plan that participates in the specific function that is funded by user fees. This term may include: health insurance issuers, QHP issuers, issuers of multi-State plans (as defined in §155.1000(a) of this subchapter), issuers of stand-alone dental plans (as described in §155.1065 of this subtitle), or other issuers identified by an Exchange.

(b) Requirement for State-based Exchange user fees. A participating issuer must remit user fee payments, or any other payments, charges, or fees, if assessed by a State-based Exchange under §155.160 of this subchapter.

(c) Requirement for Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee. (1) To support the functions of Federally-facilitated Exchanges, a participating issuer offering a plan through a Federally-facilitated Exchange must remit a user fee to HHS each month, in the timeframe and manner established by HHS, equal to the product of the monthly user fee rate specified in the annual HHS notice of benefit and payment parameters for Federally-facilitated Exchanges for the applicable benefit year and the monthly premium charged by the issuer for each policy under the plan where enrollment is through a Federally-facilitated Exchange.

(2) To support the functions of State-based Exchanges on the Federal platform, unless the State-based Exchange and HHS agree on an alternative mechanism to collect the funds, a participating issuer offering a plan through a State-based Exchange that elects to utilize the Federal Exchange platform for certain Exchange functions described in §155.200 of this subchapter, as specified in a Federal platform agreement, must remit a user fee to HHS, in the timeframe and manner established by HHS, equal to the product of the sum of the monthly user fee rate specified in the annual HHS notice of benefit and payment parameters for State-based Exchanges that use the Federal platform for the applicable benefit year plus, if a written request is made by a State, any additional user fee rate that HHS will collect on behalf of the State-based Exchange, multiplied by the monthly premium charged by the issuer for each policy under the plan where enrollment is through the State-based Exchange on the Federal platform.

(d) Adjustment of Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee. (1) A participating issuer offering a plan through a Federally-facilitated Exchange may qualify for an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee specified in paragraph (c) of this section to the extent that the participating issuer—

(i) Made payments for contraceptive services on behalf of a third party administrator pursuant to 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2)(ii) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2)(ii); or

(ii) Seeks an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee with respect to a third party administrator that, following receipt of a copy of the self-certification referenced in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(a)(4) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(a)(4), made or arranged for payments for contraceptive services pursuant to 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2)(i) or (ii) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2)(i) or (ii).

(2) For a participating issuer described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section to receive the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee adjustment—

(i) The participating issuer must submit to HHS, in the manner and timeframe specified by HHS, in the year following the calendar year in which the contraceptive services for which payments were made pursuant to 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2) were provided —

(A) Identifying information for the participating issuer and each third party administrator that received a copy of the self-certification referenced in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(a)(4) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(a)(4) with respect to which the participating issuer seeks an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee, whether or not the participating issuer was the entity that made the payments for contraceptive services;

(B) Identifying information for each self-insured group health plan with respect to which a copy of the self-certification referenced in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(a)(4) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(a)(4) was received by a third party administrator and with respect to which the participating issuer seeks an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee; and

(C) For each such self-insured group health plan, the total dollar amount of the payments that were made pursuant to 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2) for contraceptive services that were provided during the applicable calendar year. If such payments were made by the participating issuer directly as described in paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section, the total dollar amount should reflect the amount of the payments made by the participating issuer; if the third party administrator made or arranged for such payments, as described in paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section, the total dollar amount should reflect the amount reported to the participating issuer by the third party administrator.

(ii) Each third party administrator that intends for a participating issuer to seek an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee with respect to the third party administrator for payments for contraceptive services must submit to HHS a notification of such intent, in a manner specified by HHS, by the later of January 1, 2014, or the 60th calendar day following the date on which the third party administrator receives the applicable copy of the self-certification referenced in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(a)(4) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(a)(4).

(iii) Each third party administrator identified in paragraph (d)(2)(i)(A) of this section must submit to HHS, in the manner and timeframe specified by HHS, in the year following the calendar year in which the contraceptive services for which payments were made pursuant to 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2) were provided—

(A) Identifying information for the third party administrator and the participating issuer;

(B) Identifying information for each self-insured group health plan with respect to which a copy of the self-certification referenced in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(a)(4) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(a)(4) was received by the third party administrator and with respect to which the participating issuer seeks an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee;

(C) The total number of participants and beneficiaries in each such self-insured group health plan during the applicable calendar year;

(D) For each such self-insured group health plan with respect to which the third party administrator made payments pursuant to 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2) for contraceptive services, the total dollar amount of such payments that were provided during the applicable calendar year. If such payments were made by the participating issuer directly as described in paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section, the total dollar amount should reflect the amount reported to the third party administrator by the participating issuer; if the third party administrator made or arranged for such payments, as described in paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of this section, the total dollar amount should reflect the amount of the payments made by or on behalf of the third party administrator; and

(E) An attestation that the payments for contraceptive services were made in compliance with 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2).

(3) If the requirements set forth in paragraph (d)(2) of this section are met, the participating issuer will be provided a reduction in its obligation to pay the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee specified in paragraph (c) of this section equal in value to the sum of the following:

(i) The total dollar amount of the payments for contraceptive services submitted by the applicable third-party administrators, as described in paragraph (d)(2)(iii)(D) of this section; and

(ii) An allowance for administrative costs and margin. The allowance will be no less than 10 percent of the total dollar amount of the payments for contraceptive services specified in paragraph (d)(3)(i) of this section. HHS will specify the allowance for a particular calendar year in the annual HHS notice of benefit and payment parameters.

(4) If the amount of the adjustment under paragraph (d)(3) of this section is greater than the amount of the participating issuer's obligation to pay the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee in a particular month, the participating issuer will be provided a credit in succeeding months in the amount of the excess.

(5) Within 60 days of receipt of any adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee under this section, a participating issuer must pay each third party administrator with respect to which it received any portion of such adjustment an amount no less than the portion of the adjustment attributable to the total dollar amount of the payments for contraceptive services submitted by the third party administrator, as described in paragraph (d)(2)(iii)(D) of this section. No such payment is required with respect to the allowance for administrative costs and margin described in paragraph (d)(3)(ii) of this section. This paragraph does not apply if the participating issuer made the payments for contraceptive services on behalf of the third party administrator, as described in paragraph (d)(1)(i) of this section, or is in the same issuer group as the third party administrator.

(6) A participating issuer receiving an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee under this section for a particular calendar year must maintain for 10 years following that year, and make available upon request to HHS, the Office of the Inspector General, the Comptroller General, and their designees, documentation demonstrating that it timely paid each third party administrator with respect to which it received any such adjustment any amount required to be paid to the third party administrator under paragraph (d)(5) of this section.

(7) A third party administrator with respect to which an adjustment in the Federally-facilitated Exchange user fee is received under this section for a particular calendar year must maintain for 10 years following that year, and make available upon request to HHS, the Office of the Inspector General, the Comptroller General, and their designees, all of the following documentation:

(i) A copy of the self-certification referenced in 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(a)(4) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(a)(4) for each self-insured plan with respect to which an adjustment is received.

(ii) Documentation demonstrating that the payments for contraceptive services were made in compliance with 26 CFR 54.9815-2713A(b)(2) or 29 CFR 2590.715-2713A(b)(2).

(iii) Documentation supporting the total dollar amount of the payments for contraceptive services submitted by the third party administrator, as described in paragraph (d)(2)(iii)(D) of this section.

[77 FR 18468, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 78 FR 15535, Mar. 11, 2013; 78 FR 39897, July 2, 2013; 81 FR 12348, Mar. 8, 2016; 83 FR 62498, Dec. 4, 2018]

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§156.80   Single risk pool.

(a) Individual market. A health insurance issuer must consider the claims experience of all enrollees in all health plans (other than grandfathered health plans) subject to section 2701 of the Public Health Service Act and offered by such issuer in the individual market in a state, including those enrollees who do not enroll in such plans through the Exchange, to be members of a single risk pool.

(b) Small group market. A health insurance issuer must consider the claims experience of all enrollees in all health plans (other than grandfathered health plans) subject to section 2701 of the Public Health Service Act and offered by such issuer in the small group market in a state, including those enrollees who do not enroll in such plans through the Exchange, to be members of a single risk pool.

(c) Merger of the individual and small group markets. A state may require the individual and small group insurance markets within a state to be merged into a single risk pool if the state determines appropriate. A state that requires such merger must submit to CMS information on its election in accordance with the procedures described in §147.103 of this subchapter.

(d) Index rate—(1) In general. A health insurance issuer must establish an index rate that is effective January 1 of each calendar year for a State market described in paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section.

(i) The index rate must be based on the total combined claims costs for providing essential health benefits within the single risk pool of that State market.

(ii) The index rate must be adjusted on a market-wide basis for the State based on the total expected market-wide payments and charges under the risk adjustment program and Exchange user fees (expected to be remitted under §156.50(b) or (c) and (d) as applicable, plus the dollar amount under §156.50(d)(3)(i) and (ii) expected to be credited against user fees payable for that State market).

(iii) The premium rate for all of the health insurance issuer's plans in the relevant State market must use the applicable market-wide adjusted index rate, subject only to the plan-level adjustments permitted in paragraph (d)(2) of this section.

(2) Permitted plan-level adjustments to the index rate. For plan years or policy years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, a health insurance issuer may vary premium rates for a particular plan from its market-wide index rate for a relevant state market based only on the following actuarially justified plan-specific factors:

(i) The actuarial value and cost-sharing design of the plan.

(ii) The plan's provider network, delivery system characteristics, and utilization management practices.

(iii) The benefits provided under the plan that are in addition to the essential health benefits. These additional benefits must be pooled with similar benefits within the single risk pool and the claims experience from those benefits must be utilized to determine rate variations for plans that offer those benefits in addition to essential health benefits.

(iv) Administrative costs, excluding Exchange user fees.

(v) With respect to catastrophic plans, the expected impact of the specific eligibility categories for those plans.

(3) Calibration. The issuer must calibrate the plan-adjusted index rate for its plans within the single risk pool to correspond to an age rating factor of 1.0, a geographic rating factor of 1.0, and a tobacco use rating factor of 1.0, in a manner specified by the Secretary in guidance, to ensure that any rating variation under §147.102 of this subchapter may be accurately applied with respect to a particular plan or coverage. The calibration must be applied uniformly to all plans within the single risk pool of the State market and cannot vary by plan.

(4) Frequency of index rate and plan-level adjustments. (i) A health insurance issuer may not establish an index rate and make the market-wide adjustments pursuant to paragraph (d)(1) of this section, make the plan-level adjustments pursuant to paragraph (d)(2) of this section, or calibrate the plan-adjusted index rate for its plans pursuant to paragraph (d)(3) of this section more or less frequently than annually, except as provided in paragraph (d)(4)(ii) of this section.

(ii) A health insurance issuer in the small group market (not including a merged market) may establish index rates and make the marketwide adjustments under paragraph (d)(1) of this section, make the plan-level adjustments under paragraph (d)(2) of this section, and calibrate the plan-adjusted index rate for its plans pursuant to paragraph (d)(3) of this section, no more frequently than quarterly. Any changes to rates must have effective dates of January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1. Such rates may only apply to coverage issued or renewed on or after the rate effective date and will apply for the entire plan year of the group health plan.

(e) Grandfathered health plans in the individual and small group market. A state law requiring grandfathered health plans described in §147.140 of this subchapter to be included in a single risk pool described in paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section does not apply.

(f) Applicability date. The provisions of this section apply for plan years (as that term is defined in §144.103 of this subchapter) in the group market, and for policy years (as that term is defined in §144.103 of this subchapter) in the individual market, beginning on or after January 1, 2014.

[78 FR 13441, Feb. 27, 2013, as amended at 78 FR 39898, July 2, 2013; 78 FR 65096, Oct. 30, 2013; 81 FR 12349, Mar. 8, 2016; 81 FR 94180, Dec. 22, 2016]

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