26 CFR 54.9815-2719AT - Patient protections (temporary).

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§ 54.9815-2719AT Patient protections (temporary).
(a) Choice of health care professional—
(1) Designation of primary care provider—
(i) In general. If a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, requires or provides for designation by a participant or beneficiary of a participating primary care provider, then the plan or issuer must permit each participant or beneficiary to designate any participating primary care provider who is available to accept the participant or beneficiary. In such a case, the plan or issuer must comply with the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section by informing each participant of the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage regarding designation of a primary care provider.
(ii) Example. The rules of this paragraph (a)(1) are illustrated by the following example:
Example.
(i) Facts. A group health plan requires individuals covered under the plan to designate a primary care provider. The plan permits each individual to designate any primary care provider participating in the plan's network who is available to accept the individual as the individual's primary care provider. If an individual has not designated a primary care provider, the plan designates one until one has been designated by the individual. The plan provides a notice that satisfies the requirements of paragraph (a)(4) of this section regarding the ability to designate a primary care provider.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example, the plan has satisfied the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section.
(2) Designation of pediatrician as primary care provider—
(i) In general. If a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, requires or provides for the designation of a participating primary care provider for a child by a participant or beneficiary, the plan or issuer must permit the participant or beneficiary to designate a physician (allopathic or osteopathic) who specializes in pediatrics as the child's primary care provider if the provider participates in the network of the plan or issuer and is available to accept the child. In such a case, the plan or issuer must comply with the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section by informing each participant of the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage regarding designation of a pediatrician as the child's primary care provider.
(ii) Construction. Nothing in paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section is to be construed to waive any exclusions of coverage under the terms and conditions of the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to coverage of pediatric care.
(iii) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (a)(2) are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
(i) Facts. A group health plan's HMO designates for each participant a physician who specializes in internal medicine to serve as the primary care provider for the participant and any beneficiaries. Participant A requests that Pediatrician B be designated as the primary care provider for A's child. B is a participating provider in the HMO's network.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 1, the HMO must permit A's designation of B as the primary care provider for A's child in order to comply with the requirements of this paragraph (a)(2).
Example 2.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 1, except that A takes A's child to B for treatment of the child's severe shellfish allergies. B wishes to refer A's child to an allergist for treatment. The HMO, however, does not provide coverage for treatment of food allergies, nor does it have an allergist participating in its network, and it therefore refuses to authorize the referral.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 2, the HMO has not violated the requirements of this paragraph (a)(2) because the exclusion of treatment for food allergies is in accordance with the terms of A's coverage.
(3) Patient access to obstetrical and gynecological care—
(i) General rights—
(A) Direct access. A group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, described in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section may not require authorization or referral by the plan, issuer, or any person (including a primary care provider) in the case of a female participant or beneficiary who seeks coverage for obstetrical or gynecological care provided by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology. In such a case, the plan or issuer must comply with the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section by informing each participant that the plan may not require authorization or referral for obstetrical or gynecological care by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology. The plan or issuer may require such a professional to agree to otherwise adhere to the plan's or issuer's policies and procedures, including procedures regarding referrals and obtaining prior authorization and providing services pursuant to a treatment plan (if any) approved by the plan or issuer. For purposes of this paragraph (a)(3), a health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology is any individual (including a person other than a physician) who is authorized under applicable State law to provide obstetrical or gynecological care.
(B) Obstetrical and gynecological care. A group health plan or health insurance issuer described in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section must treat the provision of obstetrical and gynecological care, and the ordering of related obstetrical and gynecological items and services, pursuant to the direct access described under paragraph (a)(3)(i)(A) of this section, by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology as the authorization of the primary care provider.
(ii) Application of paragraph. A group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, is described in this paragraph (a)(3) if the plan or issuer—
(A) Provides coverage for obstetrical or gynecological care; and
(B) Requires the designation by a participant or beneficiary of a participating primary care provider.
(iii) Construction. Nothing in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section is to be construed to—
(A) Waive any exclusions of coverage under the terms and conditions of the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to coverage of obstetrical or gynecological care; or
(B) Preclude the group health plan or health insurance issuer involved from requiring that the obstetrical or gynecological provider notify the primary care health care professional or the plan or issuer of treatment decisions.
(iv) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (a)(3) are illustrated by the following examples:
Example 1.
(i) Facts. A group health plan requires each participant to designate a physician to serve as the primary care provider for the participant and the participant's family. Participant A, a female, requests a gynecological exam with Physician B, an in-network physician specializing in gynecological care. The group health plan requires prior authorization from A's designated primary care provider for the gynecological exam.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 1, the group health plan has violated the requirements of this paragraph (a)(3) because the plan requires prior authorization from A's primary care provider prior to obtaining gynecological services.
Example 2.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 1 except that A seeks gynecological services from C, an out-of-network provider.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 2, the group health plan has not violated the requirements of this paragraph (a)(3) by requiring prior authorization because C is not a participating health care provider.
Example 3.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 1 except that the group health plan only requires B to inform A's designated primary care physician of treatment decisions.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 3, the group health plan has not violated the requirements of this paragraph (a)(3) because A has direct access to B without prior authorization. The fact that the group health plan requires notification of treatment decisions to the designated primary care physician does not violate this paragraph (a)(3).
Example 4.
(i) Facts. A group health plan requires each participant to designate a physician to serve as the primary care provider for the participant and the participant's family. The group health plan requires prior authorization before providing benefits for uterine fibroid embolization.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 4, the plan requirement for prior authorization before providing benefits for uterine fibroid embolization does not violate the requirements of this paragraph (a)(3) because, though the prior authorization requirement applies to obstetrical services, it does not restrict access to any providers specializing in obstetrics or gynecology.
(4) Notice of right to designate a primary care provider—
(i) In general. If a group health plan or health insurance issuer requires the designation by a participant or beneficiary of a primary care provider, the plan or issuer must provide a notice informing each participant of the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage regarding designation of a primary care provider and of the rights—
(A) Under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, that any participating primary care provider who is available to accept the participant or beneficiary can be designated;
(B) Under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, with respect to a child, that any participating physician who specializes in pediatrics can be designated as the primary care provider; and
(C) Under paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, that the plan may not require authorization or referral for obstetrical or gynecological care by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology.
(ii) Timing. The notice described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section must be included whenever the plan or issuer provides a participant with a summary plan description or other similar description of benefits under the plan or health insurance coverage.
(iii) Model language. The following model language can be used to satisfy the notice requirement described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section:
(A) For plans and issuers that require or allow for the designation of primary care providers by participants or beneficiaries, insert:
[Name of group health plan or health insurance issuer] generally [requires/allows] the designation of a primary care provider. You have the right to designate any primary care provider who participates in our network and who is available to accept you or your family members. [If the plan or health insurance coverage designates a primary care provider automatically, insert: Until you make this designation, [name of group health plan or health insurance issuer] designates one for you.] For information on how to select a primary care provider, and for a list of the participating primary care providers, contact the [plan administrator or issuer] at [insert contact information].
(B) For plans and issuers that require or allow for the designation of a primary care provider for a child, add:
For children, you may designate a pediatrician as the primary care provider.
(C) For plans and issuers that provide coverage for obstetric or gynecological care and require the designation by a participant or beneficiary of a primary care provider, add:
You do not need prior authorization from [name of group health plan or issuer] or from any other person (including a primary care provider) in order to obtain access to obstetrical or gynecological care from a health care professional in our network who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology. The health care professional, however, may be required to comply with certain procedures, including obtaining prior authorization for certain services, following a pre-approved treatment plan, or procedures for making referrals. For a list of participating health care professionals who specialize in obstetrics or gynecology, contact the [plan administrator or issuer] at [insert contact information].
(b) Coverage of emergency services—
(1) Scope. If a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, provides any benefits with respect to services in an emergency department of a hospital, the plan or issuer must cover emergency services (as defined in paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section) consistent with the rules of this paragraph (b).
(2) General rules. A plan or issuer subject to the requirements of this paragraph (b) must provide coverage for emergency services in the following manner—
(i) Without the need for any prior authorization determination, even if the emergency services are provided on an out-of-network basis;
(ii) Without regard to whether the health care provider furnishing the emergency services is a participating network provider with respect to the services;
(iii) If the emergency services are provided out of network, without imposing any administrative requirement or limitation on coverage that is more restrictive than the requirements or limitations that apply to emergency services received from in-network providers;
(iv) If the emergency services are provided out of network, by complying with the cost-sharing requirements of paragraph (b)(3) of this section; and
(v) Without regard to any other term or condition of the coverage, other than—
(A) The exclusion of or coordination of benefits;
(B) An affiliation or waiting period permitted under part 7 of ERISA, part A of title XXVII of the PHS Act, or chapter 100 of the Internal Revenue Code; or
(C) Applicable cost sharing.
(3) Cost-sharing requirements—
(i) Copayments and coinsurance. Any cost-sharing requirement expressed as a copayment amount or coinsurance rate imposed with respect to a participant or beneficiary for out-of-network emergency services cannot exceed the cost-sharing requirement imposed with respect to a participant or beneficiary if the services were provided in-network. However, a participant or beneficiary may be required to pay, in addition to the in-network cost sharing, the excess of the amount the out-of-network provider charges over the amount the plan or issuer is required to pay under this paragraph (b)(3)(i). A group health plan or health insurance issuer complies with the requirements of this paragraph (b)(3) if it provides benefits with respect to an emergency service in an amount equal to the greatest of the three amounts specified in paragraphs (b)(3)(i)(A), (b)(3)(i)(B), and (b)(3)(i)(C) of this section (which are adjusted for in-network cost-sharing requirements).
(A) The amount negotiated with in-network providers for the emergency service furnished, excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary. If there is more than one amount negotiated with in-network providers for the emergency service, the amount described under this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) is the median of these amounts, excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary. In determining the median described in the preceding sentence, the amount negotiated with each in-network provider is treated as a separate amount (even if the same amount is paid to more than one provider). If there is no per-service amount negotiated with in-network providers (such as under a capitation or other similar payment arrangement), the amount under this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) is disregarded.
(B) The amount for the emergency service calculated using the same method the plan generally uses to determine payments for out-of-network services (such as the usual, customary, and reasonable amount), excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary. The amount in this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B) is determined without reduction for out-of-network cost sharing that generally applies under the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to out-of-network services. Thus, for example, if a plan generally pays 70 percent of the usual, customary, and reasonable amount for out-of-network services, the amount in this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B) for an emergency service is the total (that is, 100 percent) of the usual, customary, and reasonable amount for the service, not reduced by the 30 percent coinsurance that would generally apply to out-of-network services (but reduced by the in-network copayment or coinsurance that the individual would be responsible for if the emergency service had been provided in-network).
(C) The amount that would be paid under Medicare (part A or part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.) for the emergency service, excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary.
(ii) Other cost sharing. Any cost-sharing requirement other than a copayment or coinsurance requirement (such as a deductible or out-of-pocket maximum) may be imposed with respect to emergency services provided out of network if the cost-sharing requirement generally applies to out-of-network benefits. A deductible may be imposed with respect to out-of-network emergency services only as part of a deductible that generally applies to out-of-network benefits. If an out-of-pocket maximum generally applies to out-of-network benefits, that out-of-pocket maximum must apply to out-of-network emergency services.
(iii) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (b)(3) are illustrated by the following examples. In all of these examples, the group health plan covers benefits with respect to emergency services.
Example 1.
(i) Facts. A group health plan imposes a 25% coinsurance responsibility on individuals who are furnished emergency services, whether provided in network or out of network. If a covered individual notifies the plan within two business days after the day an individual receives treatment in an emergency department, the plan reduces the coinsurance rate to 15%.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 1, the requirement to notify the plan in order to receive a reduction in the coinsurance rate does not violate the requirement that the plan cover emergency services without the need for any prior authorization determination. This is the result even if the plan required that it be notified before or at the time of receiving services at the emergency department in order to receive a reduction in the coinsurance rate.
Example 2.
(i) Facts. A group health plan imposes a $60 copayment on emergency services without preauthorization, whether provided in-network or out-of-network. If emergency services are preauthorized, the plan waives the copayment, even if it later determines the medical condition was not an emergency medical condition.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 2, by requiring an individual to pay more for emergency services if the individual does not obtain prior authorization, the plan violates the requirement that the plan cover emergency services without the need for any prior authorization determination. (By contrast, if, to have the copayment waived, the plan merely required that it be notified rather than a prior authorization, then the plan would not violate the requirement that the plan cover emergency services without the need for any prior authorization determination.)
Example 3.
(i) Facts. A group health plan covers individuals who receive emergency services with respect to an emergency medical condition from an out-of-network provider. The plan has agreements with in-network providers with respect to a certain emergency service. Each provider has agreed to provide the service for a certain amount. Among all the providers for the service: One has agreed to accept $85, two have agreed to accept $100, two have agreed to accept $110, three have agreed to accept $120, and one has agreed to accept $150. Under the agreement, the plan agrees to pay the providers 80% of the agreed amount, with the individual receiving the service responsible for the remaining 20%.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 3, the values taken into account in determining the median are $85, $100, $100, $110, $110, $120, $120, $120, and $150. Therefore, the median amount among those agreed to for the emergency service is $110, and the amount under paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) of this section is 80% of $110 ($88).
Example 4.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 3. Subsequently, the plan adds another provider to its network, who has agreed to accept $150 for the emergency service.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 4, the median amount among those agreed to for the emergency service is $115. (Because there is no one middle amount, the median is the average of the two middle amounts, $110 and $120.) Accordingly, the amount under paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) of this section is 80% of $115 ($92).
Example 5.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 4. An individual covered by the plan receives the emergency service from an out-of-network provider, who charges $125 for the service. With respect to services provided by out-of-network providers generally, the plan reimburses covered individuals 50% of the reasonable amount charged by the provider for medical services. For this purpose, the reasonable amount for any service is based on information on charges by all providers collected by a third party, on a zip-code-by-zip-code basis, with the plan treating charges at a specified percentile as reasonable. For the emergency service received by the individual, the reasonable amount calculated using this method is $116. The amount that would be paid under Medicare for the emergency service, excluding any copayment or coinsurance for the service, is $80.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 5, the plan is responsible for paying $92.80, 80% of $116. The median amount among those agreed to for the emergency service is $115 and the amount the plan would pay is $92 (80% of $115); the amount calculated using the same method the plan uses to determine payments for out-of-network services—$116—excluding the in-network 20% coinsurance, is $92.80; and the Medicare payment is $80. Thus, the greatest amount is $92.80. The individual is responsible for the remaining $32.20 charged by the out-of-network provider.
Example 6.
(i) Facts. Same facts as Example 5. The group health plan generally imposes a $250 deductible for in-network health care. With respect to all health care provided by out-of-network providers, the plan imposes a $500 deductible. (Covered in-network claims are credited against the deductible.) The individual has incurred and submitted $260 of covered claims prior to receiving the emergency service out of network.
(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 6, the plan is not responsible for paying anything with respect to the emergency service furnished by the out-of-network provider because the covered individual has not satisfied the higher deductible that applies generally to all health care provided out of network. However, the amount the individual is required to pay is credited against the deductible.
(4) Definitions. The definitions in this paragraph (b)(4) govern in applying the provisions of this paragraph (b).
(i) Emergency medical condition. The term emergency medical condition means a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) so that a prudent layperson, who possesses an average knowledge of health and medicine, could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in a condition described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of section 1867(e)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(1)(A)). (In that provision of the Social Security Act, clause (i) refers to placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy; clause (ii) refers to serious impairment to bodily functions; and clause (iii) refers to serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.)
(ii) Emergency services. The term emergency services means, with respect to an emergency medical condition—
(A) A medical screening examination (as required under section 1867 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395dd) that is within the capability of the emergency department of a hospital, including ancillary services routinely available to the emergency department to evaluate such emergency medical condition, and
(B) Such further medical examination and treatment, to the extent they are within the capabilities of the staff and facilities available at the hospital, as are required under section 1867 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd) to stabilize the patient.
(iii) Stabilize. The term to stabilize, with respect to an emergency medical condition (as defined in paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section) has the meaning given in section 1867(e)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(3)).
(c) Effective/applicability date. The provisions of this section apply for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. See§ 54.9815-1251T for determining the application of this section to grandfathered health plans (providing that these rules regarding patient protections do not apply to grandfathered health plans).
(d) Expiration date. This section expires on June 21, 2013.
[T.D. 9491, 75 FR 37225, June 28, 2010]

Title 26 published on 2014-04-01

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  • 2014-08-27; vol. 79 # 166 - Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    1. 79 FR 51092 - Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act
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      DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Internal Revenue Service, Employee Benefits Security Administration
      Interim final rules.
      Effective date: These interim final regulations are effective on August 27, 2014. Comments: Written comments on these interim final regulations are invited and must be received by October 27, 2014.
      26 CFR Part 54

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Title 26 published on 2014-04-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 26 CFR 54 after this date.

  • 2014-08-27; vol. 79 # 166 - Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    1. 79 FR 51092 - Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, Internal Revenue Service, Employee Benefits Security Administration
      Interim final rules.
      Effective date: These interim final regulations are effective on August 27, 2014. Comments: Written comments on these interim final regulations are invited and must be received by October 27, 2014.
      26 CFR Part 54