45 CFR 146.152 - Guaranteed renewability of coverage for employers in the group market.

§ 146.152 Guaranteed 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 product. The issuer is ceasing to offer coverage in the market in accordance with paragraph (c) or (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); provided the issuer provides notice in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(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, in a form and manner specified by the Secretary, 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.

(3) For purposes of this paragraph (d), subject to applicable State law, an issuer will not be considered to have discontinued offering all health insurance coverage in a market in a State if -

(i) The issuer (in this paragraph referred to as the initial issuer) or, if the issuer is a member of a controlled group, any other issuer that is a member of such controlled group, offers and makes available in the applicable market in the State at least one product that is considered in accordance with § 144.103 of this subchapter to be the same product as a product the initial issuer had been offering in such market in such State; or

(ii) The issuer -

(A) Offers and makes available at least one product (in paragraphs (d)(3)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section referred to as the new product) in the applicable market in the State, even if such product is not considered in accordance with § 144.103 of this subchapter to be the same product as a product the issuer had been offering in the applicable market in the State (in paragraphs (d)(3)(ii)(A) through (C) of this section referred to as the discontinued product);

(B) Subjects such new product or products to the applicable process and requirements established under part 154 of this title as if such process and requirements applied with respect to that product or products, to the extent such process and requirements are otherwise applicable to coverage of the same type and in the same market; and

(C) Reasonably identifies the discontinued product or products that correspond to the new product or products for purposes of the process and requirements applied pursuant to paragraph (d)(3)(ii)(B) of this section.

(4) For purposes of this section, the term controlled group means a group of two or more persons that is treated as a single employer under sections 52(a), 52(b), 414(m), or 414(o) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or a narrower group as may be provided by applicable State law.

(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.

(1) 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 following -

(i) Large group market; and

(ii) 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.

(2) For purposes of paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this section, modifications made uniformly and solely pursuant to applicable Federal or State requirements are considered a uniform modification of coverage if:

(i) The modification is made within a reasonable time period after the imposition or modification of the Federal or State requirement; and

(ii) The modification is directly related to the imposition or modification of the Federal or State requirement.

(3) For purposes of paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this section, other types of modifications made uniformly are considered a uniform modification of coverage if the health insurance coverage for the product in the small group market meets all of the following criteria:

(i) The product is offered by the same health insurance issuer (within the meaning of section 2791(b)(2) of the PHS Act), or if the issuer is a member of a controlled group (as described in paragraph (d)(4) of this section), any other health insurance issuer that is a member of such controlled group;

(ii) The product is offered as the same product network type (for example, health maintenance organization, preferred provider organization, exclusive provider organization, point of service, or indemnity);

(iii) The product continues to cover at least a majority of the same service area;

(iv) Within the product, each plan has the same cost-sharing structure as before the modification, except for any variation in cost sharing solely related to changes in cost and utilization of medical care, or to maintain the same metal tier level described in sections 1302(d) and (e) of the Affordable Care Act; and

(v) The product provides the same covered benefits, except for any changes in benefits that cumulatively impact the rate for any plan within the product within an allowable variation of ±2 percentage points (not including changes pursuant to applicable Federal or State requirements).

(4) A State may only broaden the standards in paragraphs (f)(3)(iii) and (iv) of this section.

(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.

(h)Notice of renewal of coverage. If an issuer in the small group market is renewing grandfathered coverage as described in paragraph (a) of this section, or uniformly modifying grandfathered coverage as described in paragraph (f) of this section, the issuer must provide to each plan sponsor written notice of the renewal at least 60 calendar days before the date the coverage will be renewed in a form and manner specified by the Secretary.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 0938-0702)
[ 62 FR 16958, Apr. 8, 1997; 62 FR 31670, June 10, 1997, as amended at 62 FR 35906, July 2, 1997; 79 FR 30335, May 27, 2014; 79 FR 53004, Sept. 5, 2014; 81 FR 94172, Dec. 22, 2016]

This is a list of United States Code sections, Statutes at Large, Public Laws, and Presidential Documents, which provide rulemaking authority for this CFR Part.

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United States Code
Public Laws

Title 45 published on 2015-11-20

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 45 CFR Part 146 after this date.

  • 2016-12-22; vol. 81 # 246 - Thursday, December 22, 2016
    1. 81 FR 94058 - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2018; Amendments to Special Enrollment Periods and the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, HHS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
      Final rule.
      These regulations are effective January 17, 2017.
      45 CFR Parts 144, 146, 147, 148, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, and 158
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