§ 146.152Guaranteed renewability of coverage for employers in the group market.
(a)General rule. Subject to paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section, a health insurance issuer offering health insurance coverage in the small or large group market is required to renew or continue in force the coverage at the option of the plan sponsor.
(b)Exceptions. An issuer may nonrenew or discontinue group health insurance coverage offered in the small or large group market based only on one or more of the following:
(1)Nonpayment of premiums. The plan sponsor has failed to pay premiums or contributions in accordance with the terms of the health insurance coverage, including any timeliness requirements.
(2)Fraud. The plan sponsor has performed an act or practice that constitutes fraud or made an intentional misrepresentation of material fact in connection with the coverage.
(3)Violation of participation or contribution rules. The plan sponsor has failed to comply with a material plan provision relating to any employer contribution or group participation rules permitted under § 146.150(e) in the case of the small group market or under applicable State law in the case of the large group market.
(4)Termination of plan. The issuer is ceasing to offer coverage in the market in accordance with paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section and applicable State law.
(5)Enrollees' movement outside service area. For network plans, there is no longer any enrollee under the group health plan who lives, resides, or works in the service area of the issuer (or in the area for which the issuer is authorized to do business); and in the case of the small group market, the issuer applies the same criteria it would apply in denying enrollment in the plan under § 146.150(c).
(6)Association membership ceases. For coverage made available in the small or large group market only through one or more bona fide associations, if the employer's membership in the association ceases, but only if the coverage is terminated uniformly without regard to any health status-related factor relating to any covered individual.
(c)Discontinuing a particular product. In any case in which an issuer decides to discontinue offering a particular product offered in the small or large group market, that product may be discontinued by the issuer in accordance with applicable State law in the particular market only if—
(1) The issuer provides notice in writing to each plan sponsor provided that particular product in that market (and to all participants and beneficiaries covered under such coverage) of the discontinuation at least 90 days before the date the coverage will be discontinued;
(2) The issuer offers to each plan sponsor provided that particular product the option, on a guaranteed issue basis, to purchase all (or, in the case of the large group market, any) other health insurance coverage currently being offered by the issuer to a group health plan in that market; and
(3) In exercising the option to discontinue that product and in offering the option of coverage under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the issuer acts uniformly without regard to the claims experience of those sponsors or any health status-related factor relating to any participants or beneficiaries covered or new participants or beneficiaries who may become eligible for such coverage.
(d)Discontinuing all coverage. An issuer may elect to discontinue offering all health insurance coverage in the small or large group market or both markets in a State in accordance with applicable State law only if—
(1) The issuer provides notice in writing to the applicable State authority and to each plan sponsor (and all participants and beneficiaries covered under the coverage) of the discontinuation at least 180 days prior to the date the coverage will be discontinued; and
(2) All health insurance policies issued or delivered for issuance in the State in the market (or markets) are discontinued and not renewed.
(e)Prohibition on market reentry. An issuer who elects to discontinue offering all health insurance coverage in a market (or markets) in a State as described in paragraph (d) of this section may not issue coverage in the market (or markets) and State involved during the 5-year period beginning on the date of discontinuation of the last coverage not renewed.
(f)Exception for uniform modification of coverage. Only at the time of coverage renewal may issuers modify the health insurance coverage for a product offered to a group health plan in the—
(1) Large group market; and
(2) Small group market if, for coverage available in this market (other than only through one or more bona fide associations), the modification is consistent with State law and is effective uniformly among group health plans with that product.
(g)Application to coverage offered only through associations. In the case of health insurance coverage that is made available by a health insurance issuer in the small or large group market to employers only through one or more associations, the reference to “plan sponsor” is deemed, with respect to coverage provided to an employer member of the association, to include a reference to such employer.
(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 0938-0702)