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e-CFR data is current as of September 29, 2020

Title 45Subtitle ASubchapter BPart 156 → Subpart C


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


Subpart C—Qualified Health Plan Minimum Certification Standards


Contents
§156.200   QHP issuer participation standards.
§156.210   QHP rate and benefit information.
§156.215   Advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reduction standards.
§156.220   Transparency in coverage.
§156.221   Access to and exchange of health data and plan information.
§156.225   Marketing and Benefit Design of QHPs.
§156.230   Network adequacy standards.
§156.235   Essential community providers.
§156.245   Treatment of direct primary care medical homes.
§156.250   Meaningful access to qualified health plan information.
§156.255   Rating variations.
§156.260   Enrollment periods for qualified individuals.
§156.265   Enrollment process for qualified individuals.
§156.270   Termination of coverage or enrollment for qualified individuals.
§156.272   Issuer participation for the full plan year.
§156.275   Accreditation of QHP issuers.
§156.280   Separate billing and segregation of funds for abortion services.
§156.285   Additional standards specific to SHOP for plan years beginning prior to January 1, 2018.
§156.286   Additional standards specific to SHOP for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018.
§156.290   Non-certification and decertification of QHPs.
§156.295   Prescription drug distribution and cost reporting.

Source: 77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

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§156.200   QHP issuer participation standards.

(a) General requirement. In order to participate in an Exchange, a health insurance issuer must have in effect a certification issued or recognized by the Exchange to demonstrate that each health plan it offers in the Exchange is a QHP.

(b) QHP issuer requirement. A QHP issuer must—

(1) Comply with the requirements of this subpart with respect to each of its QHPs on an ongoing basis;

(2) Comply with Exchange processes, procedures, and requirements set forth in accordance with subpart K of part 155 of this subchapter and, in the small group market, §§155.705 and 155.706 of this subchapter;

(3) Ensure that each QHP complies with benefit design standards, as defined in §156.20;

(4) Be licensed and in good standing to offer health insurance coverage in each State in which the issuer offers health insurance coverage;

(5) Implement and report on a quality improvement strategy or strategies described in section 1311(c)(1)(E) of the Affordable Care Act consistent with the standards of section 1311(g) of the Affordable Care Act, disclose and report information on health care quality and outcomes described in sections 1311(c)(1)(H), (c)(1)(I), and (c)(3) of the Affordable Care Act, and implement appropriate enrollee satisfaction surveys consistent with section 1311(c)(4) of the Affordable Care Act

(6) Pay any applicable user fees assessed under §156.50; and

(7) Comply with the standards under 45 CFR part 153.

(c) Offering requirements. A QHP issuer must offer through the Exchange:

(1) At least one QHP in the silver coverage level and at least one QHP in the gold coverage level as described in §156.140 throughout each service area in which it offers coverage through the Exchange; and,

(2) A child-only plan at the same level of coverage, as described in section 1302(d)(1) of the Affordable Care Act, as any QHP offered through the Exchange to individuals who, as of the beginning of the plan year, have not attained the age of 21.

(d) State requirements. A QHP issuer certified by an Exchange must adhere to the requirements of this subpart and any provisions imposed by the Exchange, or a State in connection with its Exchange, that are conditions of participation or certification with respect to each of its QHPs.

(e) Non-discrimination. A QHP issuer must not, with respect to its QHP, discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, or sex.

(f) Broker compensation in a Federally-facilitated Exchange. A QHP issuer must pay the same broker compensation for QHPs offered through a Federally-facilitated Exchange that the QHP issuer pays for similar health plans offered in the State outside a Federally-facilitated Exchange.

(g) Certification standard specific to a Federally-facilitated Exchange for plan years beginning before January 1, 2018. A Federally-facilitated Exchange may certify a QHP in the individual market of a Federally-facilitated Exchange only if the QHP issuer meets one of the conditions below:

(1) The QHP issuer also offers through a Federally-facilitated SHOP serving that State at least one small group market QHP at the silver level of coverage and one at the gold level of coverage as described in section 1302(d) of the Affordable Care Act;

(2) The QHP issuer does not offer small group market products in that State, but another issuer in the same issuer group offers through a Federally-facilitated SHOP serving that State at least one small group market QHP at the silver level of coverage and one at the gold level of coverage; or

(3) Neither the issuer nor any other issuer in the same issuer group has a share of the small group market, as determined by HHS, greater than 20 percent, based on the earned premiums submitted by all issuers in the State's small group market, under §158.110 of this subchapter, on the reporting date immediately preceding the due date of the application for QHP certification.

(h) Operational requirements. As a condition of certification of a QHP, an issuer must attest that it will comply with all QHP operational requirements described in subparts D, E, H, K, L, and M of this part.

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 78 FR 15535, Mar. 11, 2013; 79 FR 30351, May 27, 2014; 80 FR 10873, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 94181, Dec. 22, 2016; 83 FR 17069, Apr. 17, 2018; 85 FR 37248, June 19, 2020]

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§156.210   QHP rate and benefit information.

(a) General rate requirement. A QHP issuer must set rates for an entire benefit year, or for the SHOP, plan year.

(b) Rate and benefit submission. A QHP issuer must submit rate and benefit information to the Exchange.

(c) Rate justification. A QHP issuer must submit to the Exchange a justification for a rate increase prior to the implementation of the increase. A QHP issuer must prominently post the justification on its Web site.

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§156.215   Advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reduction standards.

(a) Standards relative to advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions. In order for a health plan to be certified as a QHP initially and to maintain certification to be offered in the individual market on the Exchange, the issuer must meet the requirements related to the administration of cost-sharing reductions and advance payments of the premium tax credit set forth in subpart E of this part.

(b) [Reserved]

[78 FR 15535, Mar. 11, 2013]

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§156.220   Transparency in coverage.

(a) Required information. A QHP issuer must provide the following information in accordance with the standards in paragraph (b) of this section:

(1) Claims payment policies and practices;

(2) Periodic financial disclosures;

(3) Data on enrollment;

(4) Data on disenrollment;

(5) Data on the number of claims that are denied;

(6) Data on rating practices;

(7) Information on cost-sharing and payments with respect to any out-of-network coverage; and

(8) Information on enrollee rights under title I of the Affordable Care Act.

(b) Reporting requirement. A QHP issuer must submit, in an accurate and timely manner, to be determined by HHS, the information described in paragraph (a) of this section to the Exchange, HHS and the State insurance commissioner, and make the information described in paragraph (a) of this section available to the public.

(c) Use of plain language. A QHP issuer must make sure that the information submitted under paragraph (b) is provided in plain language as defined under §155.20 of this subtitle.

(d) Enrollee cost sharing transparency. A QHP issuer must make available the amount of enrollee cost sharing under the individual's plan or coverage with respect to the furnishing of a specific item or service by a participating provider in a timely manner upon the request of the individual. At a minimum, such information must be made available to such individual through an Internet Web site and such other means for individuals without access to the Internet.

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§156.221   Access to and exchange of health data and plan information.

(a) Application Programming Interface to support enrollees. Subject to paragraph (h) of this section, a QHP issuer on a Federally-Facilitated Exchange must implement and maintain a standards-based Application Programming Interface (API) that permits third-party applications to retrieve, with the approval and at the direction of a current individual enrollee or the enrollee's personal representative, data specified in paragraph (b) of this section through the use of common technologies and without special effort from the enrollee.

(b) Accessible content. (1) A QHP issuer on a Federally-facilitate Exchange must make the following information accessible to its current enrollees or the enrollee's personal representative through the API described in paragraph (a) of this section:

(i) Data concerning adjudicated claims, including claims data for payment decisions that may be appealed, were appealed, or are in the process of appeal, and provider remittances and enrollee cost-sharing pertaining to such claims, no later than one (1) business day after a claim is processed;

(ii) Encounter data from capitated providers, no later than one (1) business day after data concerning the encounter is received by the QHP issuer; and

(iii) Clinical data, including laboratory results, if the QHP issuer maintains any such data, no later than one (1) business day after data is received by the issuer.

(2) [Reserved]

(c) Technical requirements. A QHP issuer on a Federally-facilitated Exchange implementing an API under paragraph (a) of this section:

(1) Must implement, maintain, and use API technology conformant with 45 CFR 170.215;

(2) Must conduct routine testing and monitoring, and update as appropriate, to ensure the API functions properly, including assessments to verify the API is fully and successfully implementing privacy and security features such as, but not limited to, those required to comply with HIPAA privacy and security requirements in parts 160 and 164, 42 CFR parts 2 and 3, and other applicable law protecting privacy and security of individually identifiable data;

(3) Must comply with the content and vocabulary standard requirements in paragraphs (c)(3)(i) and (ii) of this section, as applicable, to the data type or data element, unless alternate standards are required by other applicable law:

(i) Content and vocabulary standards at 45 CFR 170.213 where such are applicable to the data type or element, as appropriate; and

(ii) Content and vocabulary standards at part 162 of this subchapter and 42 CFR 423.160 where required by law, or where such standards are applicable to the data type or element, as appropriate.

(4) May use an updated version of any standard or all standards required under paragraphs (c)(1) or (3) of this section, where:

(i) Use of the updated version of the standard is required by other applicable law, or

(ii) Use of the updated version of the standard is not prohibited under other applicable law, provided that:

(A) For content and vocabulary standards other than those at 45 CFR 170.213, the Secretary has not prohibited use of the updated version of a standard for purposes of this section or part 170 of this subchapter;

(B) For standards at 45 CFR 170.213 and 45 CFR 170.215, the National Coordinator has approved the updated version for use in the ONC Health IT Certification Program; and

(C) Use of the updated version of a standard does not disrupt an end user's ability to access the data described in paragraph (b) of this section through the API described in paragraph (a) of this section.

(d) Documentation requirements for APIs. For each API implemented in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, a QHP issuer on a Federally-Facilitated Exchange must make publicly accessible, by posting directly on its website and/or via publicly accessible hyperlink(s), complete accompanying documentation that contains, at a minimum the information listed in this paragraph. For the purposes of this section, “publicly accessible” means that any person using commonly available technology to browse the internet could access the information without any preconditions or additional steps, such as a fee for access to the documentation; a requirement to receive a copy of the material via email; a requirement to register or create an account to receive the documentation; or a requirement to read promotional material or agree to receive future communications from the organization making the documentation available;

(1) API syntax, function names, required and optional parameters supported and their data types, return variables and their types/structures, exceptions and exception handling methods and their returns;

(2) The software components and configurations an application must use in order to successfully interact with the API and process its response(s); and

(3) All applicable technical requirements and attributes necessary for an application to be registered with any authorization server(s) deployed in conjunction with the API.

(e) Denial or discontinuation of access to the API. A QHP issuer on a Federally-Facilitated Exchange may deny or discontinue any third party application's connection to the API required under paragraph (a) of this section if the QHP issuer:

(1) Reasonably determines, consistent with its security risk analysis under 45 CFR part 164 subpart C, that allowing an application to connect or remain connected to the API would present an unacceptable level of risk to the security of personally identifiable information, including protected health information, on the QHP issuer's systems; and

(2) Makes this determination using objective, verifiable criteria that are applied fairly and consistently across all applications and developers through which enrollees seek to access their electronic health information as defined at §171.102 of this subchapter, including but not limited to criteria that may rely on automated monitoring and risk mitigation tools.

(f) Coordination among payers. (1) A QHP issuer on a Federally-facilitated Exchange must maintain a process for the electronic exchange of, at a minimum, the data classes and elements included in the content standard adopted at 45 CFR 170.213. Such information received by a QHP issuer on a Federally-facilitated Exchange must be incorporated into the QHP issuer's records about the current enrollee. With the approval and at the direction of a current or former enrollee or the enrollee's personal representative, a QHP issuer on a Federally-facilitated Exchange must:

(i) Receive all such data for a current enrollee from any other payer that has provided coverage to the enrollee within the preceding 5 years;

(ii) At any time the enrollee is currently enrolled in the plan and up to 5 years after disenrollment, send all such data to any other payer that currently covers the enrollee or a payer the enrollee or the enrollee's personal representative specifically requests receive the data; and

(iii) Send data received from another payer under this paragraph (f) in the electronic form and format it was received.

(2) [Reserved]

(g) Enrollee resources regarding privacy and security. A QHP issuer on a Federally-facilitated Exchange must provide in an easily accessible location on its public website and through other appropriate mechanisms through which it ordinarily communicates with current and former enrollees seeking to access their health information held by the QHP issuer, educational resources in non-technical, simple and easy-to-understand language explaining at a minimum:

(1) General information on steps the individual may consider taking to help protect the privacy and security of their health information, including factors to consider in selecting an application including secondary uses of data, and the importance of understanding the security and privacy practices of any application to which they will entrust their health information; and

(2) An overview of which types of organizations or individuals are and are not likely to be HIPAA covered entities, the oversight responsibilities of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and how to submit a complaint to:

(i) The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR); and

(ii) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

(h) Exception. (1) If a plan applying for QHP certification to be offered through a Federally-facilitated Exchange believes it cannot satisfy the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (g) of this section, the issuer must include as part of its QHP application a narrative justification describing the reasons why the plan cannot reasonably satisfy the requirements for the applicable plan year, the impact of non-compliance upon enrollees, the current or proposed means of providing health information to enrollees, and solutions and a timeline to achieve compliance with the requirements of this section.

(2) The Federally-facilitated Exchange may grant an exception to the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (g) of this section if the Exchange determines that making such health plan available through such Exchange is in the interests of qualified individuals in the State or States in which such Exchange operates.

(i) Applicability. A QHP issuer on an individual market Federally-facilitated Exchange, not including QHP issuers offering only stand-alone dental plans, must comply with the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (e) and (g) of this section beginning with plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2021, and with the requirements in paragraph (f) of this section beginning with plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2022 with regard to data:

(1) With a date of service on or after January 1, 2016; and

(2) That are maintained by the QHP issuer for enrollees in QHPs.

[85 FR 25638, May 1, 2020]

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§156.225   Marketing and Benefit Design of QHPs.

A QHP issuer and its officials, employees, agents and representatives must—

(a) State law applies. Comply with any applicable State laws and regulations regarding marketing by health insurance issuers; and

(b) Non-discrimination. Not employ marketing practices or benefit designs that will have the effect of discouraging the enrollment of individuals with significant health needs in QHPs.

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§156.230   Network adequacy standards.

(a) General requirement. Each QHP issuer that uses a provider network must ensure that the provider network consisting of in-network providers, as available to all enrollees, meets the following standards—

(1) Includes essential community providers in accordance with §156.235;

(2) Maintains a network that is sufficient in number and types of providers, including providers that specialize in mental health and substance abuse services, to assure that all services will be accessible without unreasonable delay; and,

(3) Is consistent with the network adequacy provisions of section 2702(c) of the PHS Act.

(b) Access to provider directory. (1) A QHP issuer must make its provider directory for a QHP available to the Exchange for publication online in accordance with guidance from HHS and to potential enrollees in hard copy upon request. In the provider directory, a QHP issuer must identify providers that are not accepting new patients.

(2) For plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2016, a QHP issuer must publish an up-to-date, accurate, and complete provider directory, including information on which providers are accepting new patients, the provider's location, contact information, specialty, medical group, and any institutional affiliations, in a manner that is easily accessible to plan enrollees, prospective enrollees, the State, the Exchange, HHS and OPM. A provider directory is easily accessible when—

(i) The general public is able to view all of the current providers for a plan in the provider directory on the issuer's public Web site through a clearly identifiable link or tab and without creating or accessing an account or entering a policy number; and

(ii) If a health plan issuer maintains multiple provider networks, the general public is able to easily discern which providers participate in which plans and which provider networks.

(c) Increasing consumer transparency. A QHP issuer in a Federally-facilitated Exchange must make available the information described in paragraph (b) of this section on its Web site in an HHS specified format and also submit this information to HHS, in a format and manner and at times determined by HHS.

(d) Provider transitions. A QHP issuer in a Federally-facilitated Exchange must—

(1) Make a good faith effort to provide written notice of discontinuation of a provider 30 days prior to the effective date of the change or otherwise as soon as practicable, to enrollees who are patients seen on a regular basis by the provider or who receive primary care from the provider whose contract is being discontinued, irrespective of whether the contract is being discontinued due to a termination for cause or without cause, or due to a non-renewal;

(2) In cases where a provider is terminated without cause, allow an enrollee in an active course of treatment to continue treatment until the treatment is complete or for 90 days, whichever is shorter, at in-network cost-sharing rates.

(i) For the purposes of paragraph (d)(2) of this section, active course of treatment means:

(A) An ongoing course of treatment for a life-threatening condition, defined as a disease or condition for which likelihood of death is probable unless the course of the disease or condition is interrupted;

(B) An ongoing course of treatment for a serious acute condition, defined as a disease or condition requiring complex ongoing care which the covered person is currently receiving, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or post-operative visits;

(C) The second or third trimester of pregnancy, through the postpartum period; or

(D) An ongoing course of treatment for a health condition for which a treating physician or health care provider attests that discontinuing care by that physician or health care provider would worsen the condition or interfere with anticipated outcomes.

(ii) Any QHP issuer decision made for a request for continuity of care under paragraph (d)(2) of this section must be subject to the health benefit plan's internal and external grievance and appeal processes in accordance with applicable State or Federal law or regulations.

(e) Out-of-network cost sharing. Beginning for the 2018 and later benefit years, for a network to be deemed adequate, each QHP that uses a provider network must:

(1) Notwithstanding §156.130(c), count the cost sharing paid by an enrollee for an essential health benefit provided by an out-of-network ancillary provider in an in-network setting towards the enrollee's annual limitation on cost sharing; or

(2) Provide a written notice to the enrollee by the longer of when the issuer would typically respond to a prior authorization request timely submitted, or 48 hours before the provision of the benefit, that additional costs may be incurred for an essential health benefit provided by an out-of- network ancillary provider in an in-network setting, including balance billing charges, unless such costs are prohibited under State law, and that any additional charges may not count toward the in-network annual limitation on cost sharing.

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 80 FR 10873, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 12349, Mar. 8, 2016]

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§156.235   Essential community providers.

(a) General ECP standard. (1) A QHP issuer that uses a provider network must include in its provider network a sufficient number and geographic distribution of essential community providers (ECPs), where available, to ensure reasonable and timely access to a broad range of such providers for low-income individuals or individuals residing in Health Professional Shortage Areas within the QHP's service area, in accordance with the Exchange's network adequacy standards.

(2) A plan applying for QHP certification to be offered through a Federally-facilitated Exchange has a sufficient number and geographic distribution of ECPs if it demonstrates in its QHP application that—

(i) The network includes as participating practitioners at least a minimum percentage, as specified by HHS, of available essential community providers in each plan's service area. Multiple providers at a single location will count as a single essential community provider toward both the available essential community providers in the plan's service area and the issuer's satisfaction of the essential community provider participation standard; and

(ii) The issuer of the plan offers contracts to—

(A) All available Indian health care providers in the service area, applying the special terms and conditions required by Federal law and regulations as referenced in the recommended model QHP addendum for Indian health care providers developed by HHS; and

(B) At least one ECP in each of the ECP categories (Federally Qualified Health Centers, Ryan White Providers, Family Planning Providers, Indian Health Care Providers, Hospitals and other ECP providers) in each county in the service area, where an ECP in that category is available and provides medical or dental services that are covered by the issuer plan type.

(3) If a plan applying for QHP certification to be offered through a Federally-facilitated Exchange does not satisfy the ECP standard described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the issuer must include as part of its QHP application a narrative justification describing how the plan's provider network provides an adequate level of service for low-income enrollees or individuals residing in Health Professional Shortage Areas within the plan's service area and how the plan's provider network will be strengthened toward satisfaction of the ECP standard prior to the start of the benefit year.

(4) Nothing in paragraphs (a)(1) through (3) of this section requires any QHP to provide coverage for any specific medical procedure.

(5) A plan that provides a majority of covered professional services through physicians employed by the issuer or through a single contracted medical group may instead comply with the alternate standard described in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Alternate ECP standard. (1) A plan described in paragraph (a)(5) of this section must have a sufficient number and geographic distribution of employed providers and hospital facilities, or providers of its contracted medical group and hospital facilities, to ensure reasonable and timely access for low-income individuals or individuals residing in Health Professional Shortage Areas within the plan's service area, in accordance with the Exchange's network adequacy standards.

(2) A plan described in paragraph (a)(5) of this section applying for QHP certification to be offered through a Federally-facilitated Exchange has a sufficient number and geographic distribution of employed or contracted providers if it demonstrates in its QHP application that—

(i) The number of its providers that are located in Health Professional Shortage Areas or five-digit zip codes in which 30 percent or more of the population falls below 200 percent of the Federal poverty level satisfies a minimum percentage, specified by HHS, of available essential community providers in the plan's service area. Multiple providers at a single location will count as a single essential community provider toward both the available essential community providers in the plan's service area and the issuer's satisfaction of the essential community provider participation standard; and

(ii) The issuer's integrated delivery system provides all of the categories of services provided by entities in each of the ECP categories in each county in the plan's service area as outlined in the general ECP standard, or otherwise offers a contract to at least one ECP outside of the issuer's integrated delivery system per ECP category in each county in the plan's service area that can provide those services to low-income, medically underserved individuals.

(3) If a plan does not satisfy the alternate ECP standard described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, the issuer must include as part of its QHP application a narrative justification describing how the plan's provider networks provide an adequate level of service for low-income enrollees or individuals residing in Health Professional Shortage Areas within the plan's service area and how the plan's provider network will be strengthened toward satisfaction of the ECP standard prior to the start of the benefit year.

(c) Definition. An essential community provider is a provider that serves predominantly low-income, medically underserved individuals, including a health care provider defined in section 340B(a)(4) of the PHS Act; or described in section 1927(c)(1)(D)(i)(IV) of the Act as set forth by section 221 of Pub. L. 111-8; or a State-owned family planning service site, or governmental family planning service site, or not-for-profit family planning service site that does not receive Federal funding under special programs, including under Title X of the PHS Act, or an Indian health care provider, unless any of the above providers has lost its status under either of these sections, 340(B) of the PHS Act or 1927 of the Act as a result of violating Federal law.

(d) Payment rates. Nothing in paragraph (a) of this section may be construed to require a QHP issuer to contract with an ECP if such provider refuses to accept the same rates and contract provisions included in contracts accepted by similarly situated providers.

(e) Payment of Federally qualified health centers. If an item or service covered by a QHP is provided by a Federally-qualified health center (as defined in section 1905(l)(2)(B) of the Act) to an enrollee of a QHP, the QHP issuer must pay the Federally qualified health center for the item or service an amount that is not less than the amount of payment that would have been paid to the center under section 1902(bb) of the Act for such item or service. Nothing in this paragraph (e) precludes a QHP issuer and Federally-qualified health center from agreeing upon payment rates other than those that would have been paid to the center under section 1902(bb) of the Act, as long as that rate is at least equal to the generally applicable payment rate of the issuer described in paragraph (d) of this section.

[80 FR 10873, Feb. 27, 2015, as amended at 81 FR 12350, Mar. 8, 2016; 81 FR 94181, Dec. 22, 2016]

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§156.245   Treatment of direct primary care medical homes.

A QHP issuer may provide coverage through a direct primary care medical home that meets criteria established by HHS, so long as the QHP meets all requirements that are otherwise applicable and the services covered by the direct primary care medical home are coordinated with the QHP issuer.

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§156.250   Meaningful access to qualified health plan information.

A QHP issuer must provide all information that is critical for obtaining health insurance coverage or access to health care services through the QHP, including applications, forms, and notices, to qualified individuals, applicants, qualified employers, qualified employees, and enrollees in accordance with the standards described in §155.205(c) of this subchapter. Information is deemed to be critical for obtaining health insurance coverage or access to health care services if the issuer is required by law or regulation to provide the document to a qualified individual, applicant, qualified employer, qualified employee, or enrollee.

[80 FR 10874, Feb. 27, 2015]

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§156.255   Rating variations.

(a) Rating areas. A QHP issuer, including an issuer of a multi-State plan, may vary premiums by the geographic rating area established under section 2701(a)(2) of the PHS Act.

(b) Same premium rates. A QHP issuer must charge the same premium rate without regard to whether the plan is offered through an Exchange, or whether the plan is offered directly from the issuer or through an agent.

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§156.260   Enrollment periods for qualified individuals.

(a) Individual market requirement. A QHP issuer must:

(1) Enroll a qualified individual during the initial and annual open enrollment periods described in §155.410(b) and (e) of this subchapter, and abide by the effective dates of coverage established by the Exchange in accordance with §155.410(c) and (f) of this subchapter; and

(2) Make available, at a minimum, special enrollment periods described in §155.420(d) of this subchapter, for QHPs and abide by the effective dates of coverage established by the Exchange in accordance with §155.420(b) of this subchapter.

(b) Notification of effective date. A QHP issuer must notify a qualified individual of his or her effective date of coverage.

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§156.265   Enrollment process for qualified individuals.

(a) General requirement. A QHP issuer must process enrollment in accordance with this section.

(b) Enrollment through the Exchange for the individual market. (1) A QHP issuer must enroll a qualified individual only if the Exchange—

(i) Notifies the QHP issuer that the individual is a qualified individual; and

(ii) Transmits information to the QHP issuer as provided in §155.400(a) of this subchapter.

(2) If an applicant initiates enrollment directly with the QHP issuer for enrollment through the Exchange, the QHP issuer must either—

(i) Direct the individual to file an application with the Exchange in accordance with §155.310, or

(ii) Ensure the applicant's completion of an eligibility verification and enrollment application through the Exchange Internet Web site as described in §155.405, or ensure that the eligibility application information is submitted for an eligibility determination through the Exchange-approved Web service subject to meeting the requirements in paragraph (b)(3) through (5) of this section;

(3) When an Internet Web site of an issuer is used to complete the Exchange eligibility application outlined in this section, at a minimum, the Internet Web site must:

(i) Use exactly the same eligibility application language as appears in the FFE Single Streamlined Application required in §155.405 of this subchapter, unless HHS approves a deviation;

(ii) Ensure that all necessary information for the consumer's applicable eligibility circumstances are submitted through the Exchange-approved Web service;

(iii) Ensure that the process used for consumers to complete the eligibility application complies with all applicable Exchange standards, including §§155.230 and 155.260(b) of this subchapter; and

(iv) Differentially display all standardized options in accordance with the requirements under §155.205(b)(1) in a manner consistent with that adopted by HHS for display on the Federally-facilitated Exchange Web site, unless HHS approves a deviation.

(4) An issuer must obtain HHS approval that the requirements of this section have been met prior to completing an applicant's eligibility application through the issuer's Internet Web site.

(5) HHS or its designee may periodically monitor and audit an agent, broker, or issuer to assess its compliance with the applicable requirements of this section.

(c) Acceptance of enrollment information. A QHP issuer must accept enrollment information consistent with the privacy and security requirements established by the Exchange in accordance with §155.260 and in an electronic format that is consistent with §155.270.

(d) Premium payment. A QHP issuer must follow the premium payment process established by the Exchange in accordance with §155.240 of this subchapter and the payment rules established in §155.400(e) of this subchapter.

(e) Enrollment information package. A QHP issuer must provide new enrollees an enrollment information package that is compliant with accessibility and readability standards established in §155.230(b).

(f) Enrollment reconciliation. A QHP issuer must reconcile enrollment files with the Exchange in a format specified by the Exchange (or, for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform) and resolve assigned updates no less than once a month in accordance with §155.400(d) of this subchapter, using the most recent enrollment information that is available and that has been verified to the best of the issuer's knowledge or belief.

(g) Timely updates to enrollment records. A QHP issuer offering plans through an Exchange must, in a format specified by the Exchange (or, for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform), either:

(1) Verify to the Exchange (or, for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform) that the information in the enrollment reconciliation file received from the Exchange (or, for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform) accurately reflects its enrollment data for the applicable benefit year in its next enrollment reconciliation file submission to the Exchange (or, for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform), and update its internal enrollment records accordingly; or

(2) Describe to the Exchange (or for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform) within one reconciliation cycle any discrepancy it identifies in the enrollment reconciliation files it received from the Exchange (or for QHP issuers in State Exchanges on the Federal Platform, the Federal Platform).

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 78 FR 76218, Dec. 17, 2013; 79 FR 30351, May 27, 2014; 80 FR 10874, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 12350, Mar. 8, 2016; 81 FR 94181, Dec. 22, 2016; 85 FR 29261, May 14, 2020]

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§156.270   Termination of coverage or enrollment for qualified individuals.

(a) General requirement. A QHP issuer may only terminate enrollment in a QHP through the Exchange as permitted by the Exchange in accordance with §155.430(b) of this subchapter. (See also §147.106 of this subchapter for termination of coverage.)

(b) Termination of coverage or enrollment notice requirement. If a QHP issuer terminates an enrollee's coverage or enrollment in a QHP through the Exchange in accordance with §155.430(b) of this subchapter, the QHP issuer must, promptly and without undue delay:

(1) Provide the enrollee with a notice of termination that includes the termination effective date and reason for termination.

(2) [Reserved]

(c) Termination of coverage or enrollment due to non-payment of premium. A QHP issuer must establish a standard policy for the termination of enrollment of enrollees through the Exchange due to non-payment of premium as permitted by the Exchange in §155.430(b)(2)(ii) of this subchapter. This policy for the termination of enrollment:

(1) Must include the grace period for enrollees receiving advance payments of the premium tax credits as described in paragraph (d) of this section; and

(2) Must be applied uniformly to enrollees in similar circumstances.

(d) Grace period for recipients of advance payments of the premium tax credit. A QHP issuer must provide a grace period of 3 consecutive months for an enrollee, who when failing to timely pay premiums, is receiving advance payments of the premium tax credit. During the grace period, the QHP issuer must:

(1) Pay all appropriate claims for services rendered to the enrollee during the first month of the grace period and may pend claims for services rendered to the enrollee in the second and third months of the grace period;

(2) Notify HHS of such non-payment; and,

(3) Notify providers of the possibility for denied claims when an enrollee is in the second and third months of the grace period.

(e) Advance payments of the premium tax credit. For the 3-month grace period described in paragraph (d) of this section, a QHP issuer must:

(1) Continue to collect advance payments of the premium tax credit on behalf of the enrollee from the Department of the Treasury.

(2) Return advance payments of the premium tax credit paid on the behalf of such enrollee for the second and third months of the grace period if the enrollee exhausts the grace period as described in paragraph (g) of this section.

(f) Notice of non-payment of premiums. If an enrollee is delinquent on premium payment, the QHP issuer must provide the enrollee with notice of such payment delinquency.

(g) Exhaustion of grace period. If an enrollee receiving advance payments of the premium tax credit exhausts the 3-month grace period in paragraph (d) of this section without paying all outstanding premiums, subject to a premium payment threshold implemented under §155.400(g) of this subchapter, if applicable, the QHP issuer must terminate the enrollee's enrollment through the Exchange on the effective date described in §155.430(d)(4) of this subchapter, provided that the QHP issuer meets the notice requirement specified in paragraph (b) of this section.

(h) Records of termination of coverage. QHP issuers must maintain records in accordance with Exchange standards established in accordance with §155.430(c) of this subchapter.

(i) Effective date of termination of coverage or enrollment. QHP issuers must abide by the termination of coverage or enrollment effective dates described in §155.430(d) of this subchapter.

(j) Operational instructions. QHP issuers must follow the transaction rules established by the Exchange in accordance with §155.430(e) of this subchapter.

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 78 FR 42322, July 15, 2013; 78 FR 54143, Aug. 30, 2013; 79 FR 30351, May 27, 2014; 80 FR 10874, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 12350, Mar. 8, 2016; 81 FR 53032, Aug. 11, 2016; 85 FR 29261, May 14, 2020]

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§156.272   Issuer participation for the full plan year.

(a) An issuer offering a QHP through an individual market Exchange must make the QHP available for enrollment through the Exchange for the full plan year for which the plan was certified, including to eligible enrollees during limited open enrollment periods, unless a basis for suppression under §156.815 applies.

(b) Unless a basis for suppression under §156.815 applies, an issuer offering a QHP through a SHOP must make the QHP available for enrollment through the SHOP for the full plan year for which the QHP was certified.

(c) An issuer offering a QHP through a Federally-facilitated Exchange or a Federally-facilitated SHOP that does not comply with paragraph (a) or (b) of this section may, at the discretion of HHS, be precluded from offering QHPs in a Federally-facilitated Exchange or Federally-facilitated SHOP for up to the two succeeding plan years.

[81 FR 94181, Dec. 22, 2016]

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§156.275   Accreditation of QHP issuers.

(a) General requirement. A QHP issuer must:

(1) Be accredited on the basis of local performance of its QHPs in the following categories by an accrediting entity recognized by HHS:

(i) Clinical quality measures, such as the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set;

(ii) Patient experience ratings on a standardized CAHPS survey;

(iii) Consumer access;

(iv) Utilization management;

(v) Quality assurance;

(vi) Provider credentialing;

(vii) Complaints and appeals;

(viii) Network adequacy and access; and

(ix) Patient information programs, and

(2) Authorize the accrediting entity that accredits the QHP issuer to release to the Exchange and HHS a copy of its most recent accreditation survey, together with any survey-related information that HHS may require, such as corrective action plans and summaries of findings.

(b) Timeframe for accreditation. A QHP issuer must be accredited within the timeframe established by the Exchange in accordance with §155.1045 of this subchapter. The QHP issuer must maintain accreditation so long as the QHP issuer offers QHPs.

(c) Accreditation—(1) Recognition of accrediting entity by HHS—(i) Application. An accrediting entity may apply to HHS for recognition. An application must include the documentation described in paragraph (c)(4) of this section and demonstrate, in a concise and organized fashion how the accrediting entity meets the requirements of paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section.

(ii) Proposed notice. Within 60 days of receiving a complete application as described in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section, HHS will publish a notice in the Federal Register identifying the accrediting entity making the request, summarizing HHS's analysis of whether the accrediting entity meets the criteria described in paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section, and providing no less than a 30-day public comment period about whether HHS should recognize the accrediting entity.

(iii) Final notice. After the close of the comment period described in paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section, HHS will notify the public in the Federal Register of the names of the accrediting entities recognized and those not recognized as accrediting entities by the Secretary of HHS to provide accreditation of QHPs.

(iv) Other recognition. Upon completion of conditions listed in paragraphs (c)(2), (3), and (4) of this section, HHS recognized, and provided notice to the public in the Federal Register, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and URAC as accrediting entities by the Secretary of HHS to provide accreditation of QHPs meeting the requirement of this section.

(2)(i) Scope of accreditation. Subject to paragraphs (c)(2)(ii), (iii), and (iv) of this section, recognized accrediting entities must provide accreditation within the categories identified in paragraphs (a)(1) of this section.

(ii) Clinical quality measures. Recognized accrediting entities must include a clinical quality measure set in their accreditation standards for health plans that:

(A) Spans a breadth of conditions and domains, including, but not limited to, preventive care, mental health and substance abuse disorders, chronic care, and acute care.

(B) Includes measures that are applicable to adults and measures that are applicable to children.

(C) Aligns with the priorities of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care issued by the Secretary of HHS and submitted to Congress on March 12, 2011;

(D) Only includes measures that are either developed or adopted by a voluntary consensus standards setting body (such as those described in the National Technology and Transfer Advancement of Act of 1995 (NTTAA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119 (1998)) or, where appropriate endorsed measures are unavailable, are in common use for health plan quality measurement and meet health plan industry standards; and

(E) Is evidence-based.

(iii) Level of accreditation. Recognized accrediting entities must provide accreditation at the Exchange product type level unless the product type level of accreditation is not methodologically sound. In such cases, the recognized accrediting entity must demonstrate that the Exchange product type level accreditation is not methodologically sound as a condition of the Exchange granting an exception to authorize accreditation at an aggregated level.

(iv) Network adequacy. The network adequacy standards for accreditation used by the recognized accrediting entities must, at a minimum, be consistent with the general requirements for network adequacy for QHP issuers codified in §156.230(a)(2) and (a)(3).

(3) Methodological and scoring criteria for accreditation. Recognized accrediting entities must use transparent and rigorous methodological and scoring criteria.

(4) Documentation. An accrediting entity applying to be recognized under the process described in (c)(1) of this section must provide the following documentation:

(i) To be recognized, an accrediting entity must provide current accreditation standards and requirements, processes and measure specifications for performance measures to demonstrate that it meets the conditions described in paragraphs (c)(2) and (3) of this section to HHS.

(ii) Recognized accrediting entities must provide to HHS any proposed changes or updates to the accreditation standards and requirements, processes, and measure specifications for performance measures with 60 days notice prior to public notification.

(5) Data sharing requirements between the recognized accrediting entities and Exchanges. When authorized by an accredited QHP issuer pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section, recognized accrediting entities must provide the following QHP issuer's accreditation survey data elements to the Exchange, other than personally identifiable information (as described in OMB Memorandum M-07-16), in which the issuer plans to operate one or more QHPs during the annual certification period or as changes occur to these data throughout the coverage year—the name, address, Health Insurance Oversight System (HIOS) issuer identifier, and unique accreditation identifier(s) of the QHP issuer and its accredited product line(s) and type(s) which have been released; and for each accredited product type:

(i) HIOS product identifier (if applicable);

(ii) Accreditation status, survey type, or level (if applicable);

(iii) Accreditation score;

(iv) Expiration date of accreditation; and

(v) Clinical quality measure results and adult and child CAHPS measure survey results (and corresponding expiration dates of these data) at the level specified by the Exchange.

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 77 FR 42671, July 20, 2012; 78 FR 12869, Feb. 25, 2013]

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§156.280   Separate billing and segregation of funds for abortion services.

(a) State opt-out of abortion coverage. A QHP issuer must comply with a State law that prohibits abortion coverage in QHPs.

(b) Termination of opt out. A QHP issuer may provide coverage of abortion services through the Exchange in a State described in paragraph (a) of this section if the State repeals such law.

(c) Voluntary choice of coverage of abortion services. Notwithstanding any other provision of title I of the Affordable Care Act (or any other amendment made under that title):

(1) Nothing in title I of the Affordable Care Act (or any amendments by that title) shall be construed to require a QHP issuer to provide coverage of services described in paragraph (d) of this section as part of its essential health benefits, as described in section 1302(b) of the Affordable Care Act, for any plan year.

(2) Subject to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, the QHP issuer must determine whether or not the QHP provides coverage of services described in paragraph (d) of this section as part of such benefits for the plan year.

(d) Abortion services—(1) Abortions for which public funding is prohibited. The services described in this paragraph are abortion services for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for HHS is not permitted, based on the law in effect 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.

(2) Abortions for which public funding is allowed. The services described in this paragraph are abortion services for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for HHS is permitted, based on the law in effect 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.

(e) Prohibition on the use of Federal funds. (1) If a QHP provides coverage of services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, the QHP issuer must not use any amount attributable to any of the following for the purposes of paying for such services:

(i) The credit under section 36B of the Code and the amount (if any) of the advance payment of the credit under section 1412 of the Affordable Care Act;

(ii) Any cost-sharing reduction under section 1402 of the Affordable Care Act and the amount (if any) of the advance payments of the reduction under section 1412 of the Affordable Care Act.

(2) Establishment of allocation accounts. In the case of a QHP to which paragraph (e)(1) of this section applies, the QHP issuer must:

(i) Collect from each enrollee in the QHP (without regard to the enrollee's age, sex, or family status) a separate payment for each of the following:

(A) An amount equal to the portion of the premium to be paid directly by the enrollee for coverage under the QHP of services other than services described in (d)(1) of this section (after reductions for credits and cost-sharing reductions described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section); and

(B) An amount equal to the actuarial value of the coverage of services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section.

(ii) Beginning on or before the first billing cycle following August 26, 2020, to satisfy the obligation in paragraph (e)(2)(i) of this section—

(A) Send to each policy holder of a QHP monthly bills for each of the amounts specified in paragraphs (e)(2)(i)(A) and (B) of this section, either by sending separate paper bills which may be in the same envelope or mailing, or by sending separate bills electronically, which must be in separate emails or electronic communications; and

(B) Instruct the policy holder to pay each of the amounts specified in paragraphs (e)(2)(i)(A) and (B) of this section through separate transactions. Notwithstanding this instruction, if the policy holder fails to pay each of these amounts in a separate transaction as instructed by the issuer, the issuer may not refuse the payment and initiate a grace period or terminate the policy holder's QHP coverage on this basis.

(iii) Deposit all such separate payments into separate allocation accounts as provided in paragraph (e)(3) of this section. In the case of an enrollee whose premium for coverage under the QHP is paid through employee payroll deposit, the separate payments required under paragraph (e)(2)(i) of this section shall each be paid by a separate deposit.

(3) Segregation of funds. (i) The QHP issuer to which paragraph (e)(1) of this section applies must establish allocation accounts described in paragraph (e)(3)(ii) of this section for enrollees receiving the amounts described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section.

(ii) Allocation accounts. The QHP issuer to which paragraph (e)(1) of this section applies must deposit:

(A) All payments described in paragraph (e)(2)(i)(A) of this section into a separate account that consists solely of such payments and that is used exclusively to pay for services other than the services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section;

(B) All payments described in paragraph (e)(2)(i)(B) of this section into a separate account that consists solely of such payments and that is used exclusively to pay for services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section.

(4) Actuarial value. The QHP issuer must estimate the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on an average actuarial basis, for including coverage under the QHP of services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section. In making such an estimate, the QHP issuer:

(i) May take into account the impact on overall costs of the inclusion of such coverage, but may not take into account any cost reduction estimated to result from such services, including prenatal care, delivery, or postnatal care;

(ii) Must estimate such costs as if such coverage were included for the entire population covered; and

(iii) May not estimate such a cost at less than one dollar per enrollee, per month.

(5) Ensuring compliance with segregation requirements. (i) Subject to paragraph (e)(5)(iv) of this section, the QHP issuer must comply with the efforts or direction of the State health insurance commissioner to ensure compliance with this section through the segregation of QHP funds in accordance with applicable provisions of generally accepted accounting requirements, circulars on funds management of the Office of Management and Budget and guidance on accounting of the Government Accountability Office.

(ii) Each QHP issuer that participates in an Exchange and offers coverage for services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section should, as a condition of participating in an Exchange, submit a plan that details its process and methodology for meeting the requirements of section 1303(b)(2)(C), (D), and (E) (hereinafter, “segregation plan”) to the State health insurance commissioner. The segregation plan should describe the QHP issuer's financial accounting systems, including appropriate accounting documentation and internal controls, that would ensure the segregation of funds required by section 1303(b)(2)(C), (D), and (E), and should include:

(A) The financial accounting systems, including accounting documentation and internal controls, that would ensure the appropriate segregation of payments received for coverage of services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section from those received for coverage of all other services;

(B) The financial accounting systems, including accounting documentation and internal controls, that would ensure that all expenditures for services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section are reimbursed from the appropriate account; and

(C) An explanation of how the QHP issuer's systems, accounting documentation, and controls meet the requirements for segregation accounts under the law.

(iii) Each QHP issuer participating in the Exchange must provide to the State insurance commissioner an annual assurance statement attesting that the plan has complied with section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act and applicable regulations.

(iv) Nothing in this clause shall prohibit the right of an individual or QHP issuer to appeal such action in courts of competent jurisdiction.

(f) Rules relating to notice—(1) Notice. A QHP that provides for coverage of services in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, must provide a notice to enrollees, only as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment, of such coverage.

(2) Rules relating to payments. The notice described in paragraph (f)(1) of this section, any advertising used by the QHP issuer with respect to the QHP, any information provided by the Exchange, and any other information specified by HHS must provide information only with respect to the total amount of the combined payments for services described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section and other services covered by the QHP.

(g) No discrimination on basis of provision of abortion. No QHP offered through an Exchange may discriminate against any individual health care provider or health care facility because of its unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

(h) Application of State and Federal laws regarding abortions—(1) No preemption of State laws regarding abortion. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act shall be construed to preempt or otherwise have any effect on State laws regarding the prohibition of (or requirement of) coverage, funding, or procedural requirements on abortions, including parental notification or consent for the performance of an abortion on a minor.

(2) No effect on Federal laws regarding abortion. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding:

(i) Conscience protection;

(ii) Willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and

(iii) Discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.

(3) No effect on Federal civil rights law. Nothing in section 1303(c) of the Affordable Care Act shall alter the rights and obligations of employees and employers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

(i) Application of emergency services laws. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act shall be construed to relieve any health care provider from providing emergency services as required by State or Federal law, including section 1867 of the Act (popularly known as “EMTALA”).

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 84 FR 71710, Dec. 27, 2019; 85 FR 2888, Jan. 17, 2020; 85 FR 27629, May 8, 2020]

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§156.285   Additional standards specific to SHOP for plan years beginning prior to January 1, 2018.

(a) SHOP rating and premium payment requirements. QHP issuers offering a QHP through a SHOP must:

(1) Accept payment from the SHOP on behalf of a qualified employer or an enrollee in accordance with §155.705(b)(4) of this subchapter;

(2) Adhere to the SHOP timeline for rate setting as established in §155.705(b)(6) of this subchapter; and

(3) Charge the same contract rate for a plan year.

(4)(i) Adhere to the premium rating standards described in §147.102 of this subchapter regardless of whether the QHP being sold through the SHOP is sold in the small group market or the large group market; and

(ii) Effective in plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, a QHP issuer in a Federally-facilitated SHOP may not offer to an employer premiums that are based on average enrollee premium amounts under §147.102(c)(3) of this subchapter, if the employer elects to offer coverage to its employees under §155.705(b)(3)(iv)(A) of this subchapter. This paragraph (a)(4)(ii) also applies to stand-alone dental plans in a Federally-facilitated SHOP, if the employer elects to offer coverage to its employees under §155.705(b)(3)(v)(B) of this subchapter.

(b) Enrollment periods for the SHOP. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP must:

(1) Enroll a qualified employee in accordance with the qualified employer's initial and annual employee open enrollment periods described in §155.725 of this subchapter;

(2) Provide special enrollment periods as described in §155.725(j);

(3) Provide an enrollment period for an employee who becomes a qualified employee outside of the initial or annual open enrollment period as described in §155.725(g) of this subchapter; and

(4) Adhere to effective dates of coverage established in accordance with §155.725 of this subchapter.

(c) Enrollment process for the SHOP. A QHP issuer offering a QHP through the SHOP must:

(1) Adhere to the enrollment timeline and process for the SHOP as described in §155.720(b) of this subchapter;

(2) Receive enrollment information in an electronic format, in accordance with the requirements in §§155.260 and 155.270 of this subchapter, from the SHOP as described in §155.720(c);

(3) Notify new enrollees of their effective date of coverage consistent with §155.720(e) of this subchapter.

(4) Provide new enrollees with the enrollment information package as described in §156.265(e);

(5) Send enrollment reconciliation files on at least a monthly basis, and, in a Federally-facilitated SHOP, according to a process, timeline, and file format established by the Federally-facilitated SHOP;

(6) Acknowledge receipt of enrollment information in accordance with SHOP standards; and

(7) Enroll all qualified employees consistent with the plan year of the applicable qualified employer.

(8) A QHP issuer must enroll a qualified employee only if the SHOP—

(i) Notifies the QHP issuer that the employee is a qualified employee;

(ii) Transmits information to the QHP issuer as provided in §155.400(a) of this subchapter; and

(iii) Effective for QHPs offered through a Federally-facilitated SHOP in plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, does not send a cancellation notice to the QHP issuer prior to the effective date of coverage.

(d) Termination of coverage or enrollment in the SHOP. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP must:

(1) Comply with the following requirements with respect to termination of enrollees in the SHOP:

(i)(A) Effective in plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, requirements regarding termination of coverage or enrollment established in §155.735 of this subchapter, if applicable to the coverage or enrollment being terminated; otherwise

(B) General requirements regarding termination of coverage or enrollment established in §156.270(a).

(ii) If a QHP issuer terminates an enrollee's coverage or enrollment through the SHOP in accordance with §155.735(d)(1)(iii) or (v) of this subchapter, the QHP issuer must notify the qualified employer and the enrollee of the termination. Such notice must include the termination effective date and reason for termination, and must be sent within 3 business days if an electronic notice is sent, and within 5 business days if a mailed hard copy notice is sent. When a primary subscriber and his or her dependents live at the same address, a separate termination notice need not be sent to each dependent at that address, provided that the notice sent to each primary subscriber at that address contains all required information about the termination for the primary subscriber and his or her dependents at that address.

(iii)(A) Effective in plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, requirements regarding termination of coverage or enrollment effective dates as set forth in §155.735 of this subchapter, if applicable to the coverage or enrollment being terminated; otherwise

(B) Requirements regarding termination of coverage or enrollment effective dates as set forth in §156.270(i).

(2) [Reserved]

(e) Participation rules. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP may impose group participation rules for the offering of health insurance coverage in connection with a QHP only if and to the extent authorized by the SHOP in accordance with §155.705 of this subchapter.

(f) Applicability date. The provisions of this section apply for plan years beginning prior to January 1, 2018. Additional standards specific to SHOP for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018 are in §156.286.

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 78 FR 15535, Mar. 11, 2013; 78 FR 33240, June 4, 2013; 78 FR 54143, Aug. 30, 2013; 79 FR 13840, Mar. 11, 2014; 80 FR 10874, Feb. 27, 2015; 80 FR 10875, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 12350, Mar. 8, 2016; 83 FR 17069, Apr. 17, 2018]

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§156.286   Additional standards specific to SHOP for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018.

(a) SHOP rating and premium payment requirements. QHP issuers offering a QHP through a SHOP must:

(1) Accept payment from a qualified employer or an enrollee, or a SHOP on behalf of a qualified employer or enrollee, in accordance with applicable SHOP requirements.

(2) Adhere to the SHOP timeline for rate setting as established in §155.706(b)(6) of this subchapter;

(3) Charge the same contract rate for a plan year; and

(4) Adhere to the premium rating standards described in §147.102 of this subchapter regardless of whether the QHP being sold through the SHOP is sold in the small group market or the large group market.

(b) Enrollment periods and processes for the SHOP. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP must adhere to enrollment periods and processes established by the SHOP, consistent with §155.726 of this subchapter, and establish a uniform enrollment timeline and process for enrolling qualified employers and employer group members.

(c) Enrollment process for the SHOP. A QHP issuer offering a QHP through the SHOP must:

(1) Provide new enrollees with the enrollment information package as described in §156.265(e); and

(2) Enroll all qualified employees consistent with the plan year of the applicable qualified employer.

(d) Participation rules. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP may impose group participation rules for the offering of health insurance coverage in connection with a QHP only if and to the extent authorized by the SHOP in accordance with §155.706 of this subchapter.

(e) Employer choice. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP must accept enrollments from groups in accordance with the employer choice policies applicable to the SHOP under §155.706(b)(3) of this subchapter.

(f) Identification of SHOP enrollments. QHP issuers offering a QHP through the SHOP must use a uniform enrollment form, maintain processes sufficient to identify whether a group market enrollment is an enrollment through the SHOP, and maintain records of SHOP enrollments for a period of 10 years following the enrollment.

(g) Applicability date. The provisions of this section apply for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018.

[83 FR 17069, Apr. 17, 2018]

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§156.290   Non-certification and decertification of QHPs.

(a) Non-certification for a subsequent, consecutive certification cycle. If a QHP issuer elects not to seek certification for a subsequent, consecutive certification cycle with the Exchange, the QHP issuer, at a minimum, must—

(1) Notify the Exchange of its decision prior to the beginning of the recertification process and adhere to the procedures adopted by the Exchange in accordance with §155.1075 of this subchapter;

(2) Fulfill its obligation to cover benefits for each enrollee through the end of the plan or benefit year through the Exchange;

(3) Fulfill data reporting obligations from the last plan or benefit year of the certification;

(4) Provide notice to enrollees as described in paragraph (b) of this section; and

(5) Terminate the coverage or enrollment through the Exchange of enrollees in the QHP in accordance with §156.270, as applicable.

(b) Notice of QHP non-availability. When, for a subsequent, consecutive certification cycle, a QHP issuer elects not to seek certification with the Exchange, or the Exchange denies certification of a QHP, the QHP issuer must provide written notice to each enrollee in the form and manner specified by the Secretary under §147.106 of this subchapter.

(c) Decertification. If a QHP is decertified by the Exchange, the QHP issuer must terminate the enrollment of enrollees through the Exchange only after:

(1) The Exchange has made notification as described in §155.1080 of this subchapter; and

(2) Enrollees have an opportunity to enroll in other coverage.

[77 FR 18469, Mar. 27, 2012, as amended at 80 FR 10875, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 94181, Dec. 22, 2016]

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§156.295   Prescription drug distribution and cost reporting.

(a) General requirement. In a form, manner, and at such times specified by HHS, a QHP issuer must provide to HHS the following information:

(1) The percentage of all prescriptions that were provided under the QHP through retail pharmacies compared to mail order pharmacies, and the percentage of prescriptions for which a generic drug was available and dispensed compared to all drugs dispensed, broken down by pharmacy type, which includes an independent pharmacy, supermarket pharmacy, or mass merchandiser pharmacy that is licensed as a pharmacy by the State and that dispenses medication to the general public, that is paid by the QHP issuer or the QHP issuer's contracted PBM;

(2) The aggregate amount, and the type of rebates, discounts or price concessions (excluding bona fide service fees) that the QHP issuer or its contracted PBM negotiates that are attributable to patient utilization under the QHP, and the aggregate amount of the rebates, discounts, or price concessions that are passed through to the QHP issuer, and the total number of prescriptions that were dispensed.

(i) Bona fide service fees means fees paid by a manufacturer to an entity that represent fair market value for a bona fide, itemized service actually performed on behalf of the manufacturer that the manufacturer would otherwise perform (or contract for) in the absence of the service arrangement, and that are not passed on in whole or in part to a client or customer of an entity, whether or not the entity takes title to the drug.

(ii) [Reserved]

(3) The aggregate amount of the difference between the amount the QHP issuer pays its contracted PBM and the amounts that the PBM pays retail pharmacies, and mail order pharmacies, and the total number of prescriptions that were dispensed.

(b) Confidentiality. Information disclosed by a QHP issuer or a PBM under this section is confidential and shall not be disclosed by HHS or by a QHP receiving the information, except that HHS may disclose the information in a form which does not disclose the identity of a specific PBM, QHP, or prices charged for drugs, for the following purposes:

(1) As HHS determines to be necessary to carry out section 1150A or part D of title XVIII of the Act;

(2) To permit the Comptroller General to review the information provided;

(3) To permit the Director of the Congressional Budget Office to review the information provided; or

(4) To States to carry out section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act.

(c) Penalties. A QHP issuer that fails to report the information described in paragraph (a) of this section to HHS on a timely basis or knowingly provides false information will be subject to the provisions of subsection (b)(3)(C) of section 1927 of the Act.

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