45 CFR 156.298 - Meaningful difference standard for Qualified Health Plans in the Federally-facilitated Exchanges.
(a)General. Subject to paragraph (b)(2) of this section, starting in the 2015 coverage year, in order to be certified as a QHP offered through a Federally-facilitated Exchange, a plan must be meaningfully different from all other QHPs offered by the same issuer of that plan within a service area and level of coverage in the Exchange, as defined in paragraph (b) of this section.
(b)Meaningful difference standard. A plan is considered meaningfully different from another plan in the same service area and metal tier (including catastrophic plans) if a reasonable consumer would be able to identify one or more material differences among the following characteristics between the plan and other plan offerings:
(1) Cost sharing;
(2) Provider networks;
(3) Covered benefits;
(4) Plan type; or
(5) Child-only versus non Child-only plan offerings.
(c)Exception for limited plan availability. If HHS determines that the plan offerings at a particular metal level (including catastrophic plans) within a county are limited, plans submitted for certification in that particular metal level (including catastrophic plans) within that county will not be subject to the meaningful difference requirement set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.
(d)Two-year transition period for issuers with new acquisitions. During the first 2 years after a merger or acquisition in which an acquiring issuer obtains or merges with another issuer, the FFEs may certify plans as QHPs that were previously offered by the acquired or merged issuer without those plans meeting the meaningful difference standard set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.