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42 U.S. Code § 300gg–15 - Development and utilization of uniform explanation of coverage documents and standardized definitions

(a) In general

Not later than 12 months after March 23, 2010, the Secretary shall develop standards for use by a group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, in compiling and providing to applicants, enrollees, and policyholders or certificate holders a summary of benefits and coverage explanation that accurately describes the benefits and coverage under the applicable plan or coverage. In developing such standards, the Secretary shall consult with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (referred to in this section as the “NAIC”), a working group composed of representatives of health insurance-related consumer advocacy organizations, health insurance issuers, health care professionals, patient advocates including those representing individuals with limited English proficiency, and other qualified individuals.

(b) RequirementsThe standards for the summary of benefits and coverage developed under subsection (a) shall provide for the following:
(1) Appearance

The standards shall ensure that the summary of benefits and coverage is presented in a uniform format that does not exceed 4 pages in length and does not include print smaller than 12-point font.

(2) Language

The standards shall ensure that the summary is presented in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner and utilizes terminology understandable by the average plan enrollee.

(3) ContentsThe standards shall ensure that the summary of benefits and coverage includes—
uniform definitions of standard insurance terms and medical terms (consistent with subsection (g)) so that consumers may compare health insurance coverage and understand the terms of coverage (or exception to such coverage);
(B) a description of the coverage, including cost sharing for—
each of the categories of the essential health benefits described in subparagraphs (A) through (J) of section 18022(b)(1) of this title; and
other benefits, as identified by the Secretary;
the exceptions, reductions, and limitations on coverage;
the cost-sharing provisions, including deductible, coinsurance, and co-payment obligations;
the renewability and continuation of coverage provisions;
a coverage facts label that includes examples to illustrate common benefits scenarios, including pregnancy and serious or chronic medical conditions and related cost sharing, such scenarios to be based on recognized clinical practice guidelines;
(G) a statement of whether the plan or coverage—
provides minimum essential coverage (as defined under section 5000A(f) of title 26); and
ensures that the plan or coverage share of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan or coverage is not less than 60 percent of such costs;
a statement that the outline is a summary of the policy or certificate and that the coverage document itself should be consulted to determine the governing contractual provisions; and
a contact number for the consumer to call with additional questions and an Internet web address where a copy of the actual individual coverage policy or group certificate of coverage can be reviewed and obtained.
(c) Periodic review and updating

The Secretary shall periodically review and update, as appropriate, the standards developed under this section.

(d) Requirement to provide
(1) In generalNot later than 24 months after March 23, 2010, each entity described in paragraph (3) shall provide, prior to any enrollment restriction, a summary of benefits and coverage explanation pursuant to the standards developed by the Secretary under subsection (a) to—
an applicant at the time of application;
an enrollee prior to the time of enrollment or reenrollment, as applicable; and
a policyholder or certificate holder at the time of issuance of the policy or delivery of the certificate.
(2) Compliance

An entity described in paragraph (3) is deemed to be in compliance with this section if the summary of benefits and coverage described in subsection (a) is provided in paper or electronic form.

(3) Entities in generalAn entity described in this paragraph is—
a health insurance issuer (including a group health plan that is not a self-insured plan) offering health insurance coverage within the United States; or
in the case of a self-insured group health plan, the plan sponsor or designated administrator of the plan (as such terms are defined in section 1002(16) of title 29).
(4) Notice of modifications

If a group health plan or health insurance issuer makes any material modification in any of the terms of the plan or coverage involved (as defined for purposes of section 1022 of title 29) that is not reflected in the most recently provided summary of benefits and coverage, the plan or issuer shall provide notice of such modification to enrollees not later than 60 days prior to the date on which such modification will become effective.

(e) Preemption

The standards developed under subsection (a) shall preempt any related State standards that require a summary of benefits and coverage that provides less information to consumers than that required to be provided under this section, as determined by the Secretary.

(f) Failure to provide

An entity described in subsection (d)(3) that willfully fails to provide the information required under this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 for each such failure. Such failure with respect to each enrollee shall constitute a separate offense for purposes of this subsection.

(g) Development of standard definitions
(1) In general

The Secretary shall, by regulation, provide for the development of standards for the definitions of terms used in health insurance coverage, including the insurance-related terms described in paragraph (2) and the medical terms described in paragraph (3).

(2) Insurance-related terms

The insurance-related terms described in this paragraph are premium, deductible, co-insurance, co-payment, out-of-pocket limit, preferred provider, non-preferred provider, out-of-network co-payments, UCR (usual, customary and reasonable) fees, excluded services, grievance and appeals, and such other terms as the Secretary determines are important to define so that consumers may compare health insurance coverage and understand the terms of their coverage.

(3) Medical terms

The medical terms described in this paragraph are hospitalization, hospital outpatient care, emergency room care, physician services, prescription drug coverage, durable medical equipment, home health care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitation services, hospice services, emergency medical transportation, and such other terms as the Secretary determines are important to define so that consumers may compare the medical benefits offered by health insurance and understand the extent of those medical benefits (or exceptions to those benefits).

(July 1, 1944, ch. 373, title XXVII, § 2715, as added and amended Pub. L. 111–148, title I, § 1001(5), title X, § 10101(b), Mar. 23, 2010, 124 Stat. 132, 884.)
Editorial Notes

2010—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 111–148, § 10101(b), substituted “and providing to applicants, enrollees, and policyholders or certificate holders” for “and providing to enrollees”.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date

Section effective for plan years beginning on or after the date that is 6 months after Mar. 23, 2010, see section 1004 of Pub. L. 111–148, set out as a note under section 300gg–11 of this title.