42 U.S. Code § 18031 - Affordable choices of health benefit plans
There shall be appropriated to the Secretary, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, an amount necessary to enable the Secretary to make awards, not later than 1 year after March 23, 2010, to States in the amount specified in paragraph (2) for the uses described in paragraph (3).
For each fiscal year, the Secretary shall determine the total amount that the Secretary will make available to each State for grants under this subsection.
A State shall use amounts awarded under this subsection for activities (including planning activities) related to establishing an American Health Benefit Exchange, as described in subsection (b).
A State may elect to provide only one Exchange in the State for providing both Exchange and SHOP Exchange services to both qualified individuals and qualified small employers, but only if the Exchange has adequate resources to assist such individuals and employers.
Nothing in paragraph (1)(C) shall be construed to require a qualified health plan to contract with a provider described in such paragraph if such provider refuses to accept the generally applicable payment rates of such plan.
The Secretary shall develop a rating system that would rate qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in each benefits level on the basis of the relative quality and price. The Exchange shall include the quality rating in the information provided to individuals and employers through the Internet portal established under paragraph (4).
The Secretary shall develop an enrollee satisfaction survey system that would evaluate the level of enrollee satisfaction with qualified health plans offered through an Exchange, for each such qualified health plan that had more than 500 enrollees in the previous year. The Exchange shall include enrollee satisfaction information in the information provided to individuals and employers through the Internet portal established under paragraph (5) in a manner that allows individuals to easily compare enrollee satisfaction levels between comparable plans.
An Exchange shall be a governmental agency or nonprofit entity that is established by a State.
An Exchange shall make available qualified health plans to qualified individuals and qualified employers.
An Exchange may not make available any health plan that is not a qualified health plan.
Each Exchange within a State shall allow an issuer of a plan that only provides limited scope dental benefits meeting the requirements of section 9832(c)(2)(A) of title 26 to offer the plan through the Exchange (either separately or in conjunction with a qualified health plan) if the plan provides pediatric dental benefits meeting the requirements of section 18022(b)(1)(J) of this title).
Except as provided in subparagraph (B), an Exchange may make available a qualified health plan notwithstanding any provision of law that may require benefits other than the essential health benefits specified under section 18022(b) of this title.
Subject to the requirements of clause (ii), a State may require that a qualified health plan offered in such State offer benefits in addition to the essential health benefits specified under section 18022(b) of this title.
In establishing an Exchange under this section, the State shall ensure that such Exchange is self-sustaining beginning on January 1, 2015, including allowing the Exchange to charge assessments or user fees to participating health insurance issuers, or to otherwise generate funding, to support its operations.
In carrying out activities under this subsection, an Exchange shall not utilize any funds intended for the administrative and operational expenses of the Exchange for staff retreats, promotional giveaways, excessive executive compensation, or promotion of Federal or State legislative and regulatory modifications.
An Exchange shall publish the average costs of licensing, regulatory fees, and any other payments required by the Exchange, and the administrative costs of such Exchange, on an Internet website to educate consumers on such costs. Such information shall also include monies lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.
The Exchange shall require health plans seeking certification as qualified health plans to submit a justification for any premium increase prior to implementation of the increase. Such plans shall prominently post such information on their websites. The Exchange shall take this information, and the information and the recommendations provided to the Exchange by the State under section 2794(b)(1)
The information required to be submitted under subparagraph (A) shall be provided in plain language. The term “plain language” means language that the intended audience, including individuals with limited English proficiency, can readily understand and use because that language is concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing. The Secretary and the Secretary of Labor shall jointly develop and issue guidance on best practices of plain language writing.
The Exchange shall require health plans seeking certification as qualified health plans to permit individuals to learn the amount of cost-sharing (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance) under the individual’s plan or coverage that the individual would be responsible for paying 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 shall be made available to such individual through an Internet website and such other means for individuals without access to the Internet.
The Secretary of Labor shall update and harmonize the Secretary’s rules concerning the accurate and timely disclosure to participants by group health plans of plan disclosure, plan terms and conditions, and periodic financial disclosure with the standards established by the Secretary under subparagraph (A).
A State may elect to authorize an Exchange established by the State under this section to enter into an agreement with an eligible entity to carry out 1 or more responsibilities of the Exchange.
The Secretary, in consultation with experts in health care quality and stakeholders, shall develop guidelines concerning the matters described in paragraph (1).
The Secretary may establish reasonable exceptions to the requirements described in paragraph (1).
An Exchange shall establish a program under which it awards grants to entities described in paragraph (2) to carry out the duties described in paragraph (3).
To be eligible to receive a grant under paragraph (1), an entity shall demonstrate to the Exchange involved that the entity has existing relationships, or could readily establish relationships, with employers and employees, consumers (including uninsured and underinsured consumers), or self-employed individuals likely to be qualified to enroll in a qualified health plan.
The Secretary, in collaboration with States, shall develop standards to ensure that information made available by navigators is fair, accurate, and impartial.
Section 2726 of the Public Health Service Act [42 U.S.C. 300gg–26] shall apply to qualified health plans in the same manner and to the same extent as such section applies to health insurance issuers and group health plans.
An Exchange may not establish rules that conflict with or prevent the application of regulations promulgated by the Secretary under this subchapter.
 See References in Text note below.
Subtitles A and C, referred to in subsec. (a)(4)(A)(i)(II), are subtitles A (§§ 1001–1004) and C (§§ 1201–1255), respectively, of title I of Pub. L. 111–148, Mar. 23, 2010, 124 Stat. 130, 154. Subtitle A enacted sections 300gg–11 to 300gg–19, 300gg–93, and 300gg–94 of this title, transferred sections 300gg–4 to 300gg–7 and 300gg–13 of this title to sections 300gg–25 to 300gg–28 and 300gg–9 of this title, respectively, amended sections 300gg–11, 300gg–12, and 300gg–21 to 300gg–23 of this title, and enacted provisions set out as a note under section 300gg–11 of this title. Subtitle C enacted subchapter II of this chapter and sections 300gg to 300gg–2 and 300gg–4 to 300gg–7 of this title, transferred section 300gg of this title to section 300gg–3 of this title, amended sections 300gg–1 and 300gg–4 of this title, and enacted provisions set out as a note under section 300gg of this title. For complete classification of subtitles A and C to the Code, see Tables.
This title, referred to in subsecs. (b)(1) and (e)(3)(A)(viii), is title I of Pub. L. 111–148, Mar. 23, 2010, 124 Stat. 130, which enacted this chapter and enacted, amended, and transferred numerous other sections and notes in the Code. For complete classification of title I to the Code, see Tables.
Section 2716 of the Public Health Service Act, referred to in subsec. (c)(5), probably should be section 2715 of the Public Health Service Act, act July 1, 1944, which is classified to section 300gg–15 of this title and requires the Secretary to develop a uniform explanation of coverage documents and standardized definitions. Section 2716 of act July 1, 1944, which is classified to section 300gg–16 of this title, relates to prohibition on discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals.
The Social Security Act, referred to in subsecs. (c)(6)(C), (d)(4)(F), and (f)(3)(B)(ii), is act Aug. 14, 1935, ch. 531, 49 Stat. 620. Part D of title XVIII of the Act is classified generally to part D (§ 1395w–101 et seq.) of subchapter XVIII of chapter 7 of this title. Titles XIX and XXI of the Act are classified generally to subchapters XIX (§ 1396 et seq.) and XXI (§ 1397aa et seq.), respectively, of chapter 7 of this title. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 1305 of this title and Tables.
Section 2794 of the Public Health Service Act, referred to in subsec. (e)(2), probably means section 2794 of act July 1, 1944, as added by section 1003 of Pub. L. 111–148, which relates to premium increases for consumers and is classified to section 300gg–94 of this title. Another section 2794 of act July 1, 1944, relates to uniform fraud and abuse referral format and is classified to section 300gg–95 of this title.
The Public Health Service Act, referred to in subsec. (h)(1)(A)(i), is act July 1, 1944, ch. 373, 58 Stat. 682. Part C of title IX of the Act is classified generally to part C (§ 299b–21 et seq.) of subchapter VII of chapter 6A of this title. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 201 of this title and Tables.
This subchapter, referred to in subsec. (k), was in the original “this subtitle”, meaning subtitle D of title I of Pub. L. 111–148, Mar. 23, 2010, 124 Stat. 162, which enacted this subchapter and amended sections 501, 4958, and 6033 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code.
2010—Subsec. (c)(1)(I). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10203(a), added subpar. (I).
Subsec. (d)(3)(B)(ii). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10104(e)(1), added cl. (ii) and struck out former cl. (ii). Prior to amendment, text read as follows: “A State shall make payments to or on behalf of an individual eligible for the premium tax credit under section 36B of title 26 and any cost-sharing reduction under section 18071 of this title to defray the cost to the individual of any additional benefits described in clause (i) which are not eligible for such credit or reduction under section 36B(b)(3)(D) of title 26 and section 18071(c)(4) of this title.”
Subsec. (d)(6)(A). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10104(e)(2), inserted “educated” before “health care”.
Subsec. (e)(2). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10104(f)(1), which directed substitution of “shall” for “may” in second sentence, was executed by making the substitution in third sentence before “take” to reflect the probable intent of Congress because the word “shall” already appeared in second sentence.
Subsec. (e)(3). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10104(f)(2), added par. (3).
Subsec. (g)(1)(E). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10104(g), added subpar. (E).
Subsec. (i)(2)(B). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10104(h), substituted “resource partners of the Small Business Administration” for “small business development centers”.
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