Division of Insurance

Defines "qualified association" to include a Massachusetts nonprofit or not-for-profit corporation or organization focused on advancing the occupational, professional, trade, or industry interests, other than obtaining health insurance, of association members.

The organization must be active for at least 5 years before seeking qualified association status and must have at least 100 members, including individuals or small businesses that are actively involved in the organization and attained membership without regard to health status.
Defines "small business group purchasing cooperative" that may be used interchangeably with "group purchasing cooperative" to indicate a nonprofit or not-for-profit corporation or association, certified as a qualified association, that negotiates health coverage for all its members with one or more health plans.
Defines "wellness program" or "health management program" to indicate a program designed to improve the overall health of participants.
Allows the Commissioner of the Division of Insurance to conduct a study to determine whether rating factors that an insurer may use to determine annual base premium rates or individual group premiums for plans offered in the small group health insurance market inappropriately increase costs in relation to the risks of a particular small group. The Commissioner may adopt changes to regulations as necessary each July 1 for rates effective the following January 1 to modify rate adjustment factors.

When determining annual base premium rates, an insurer may consider an individual’s or small group’s business industry, age of members in a particular class of business, participation rate of members, wellness program discount, and tobacco use of its participants. The maximum premium rate offered to members cannot exceed 2 times the lowest premium rate offered to members within a particular class of business.

In general, after a carrier considers all rate adjustment factors, the base rate of any plan an insurer offers to individuals and small groups must fall within rate bands ranging between 0.66 and 1.32.

A carrier, however, may also consider certain additional base rate adjustment factors that establish a base rate outside of the rate band. These factors include: geographic region, group size, the relative actuarial value of the available health plan compared to the value of other health plans offered within a particular class of business, and the average relative actuarial value of at least 4 different base rate categories, including: single, 2 adults, 1 adult and children, and family. The Commissioner will establish at least five distinct regions for the purposes of area rate adjustments. Any additional adjustment factors must apply uniformly to every eligible member of a particular group.
Establishes circumstances under which an insurance carrier may deny enrollment or cancel a health benefit plan even though individuals or small groups remain eligible for the plan. Once a carrier has closed the health benefit plan to new individuals and small groups, the carrier may cancel and discontinue benefits of the health benefit plan to all members.  The cancellation, however, is not effective until the enrolled individual’s or small group’s next enrollment anniversary.

In general, a carrier may discontinue a health benefit plan for an eligible individual or small business if a member repeatedly fails to pay premiums, has committed fraud or misrepresented eligibility status, has failed to comply with specific plan provisions, has voluntary ceased coverage, or has failed to comply with carrier’s requests for information that the carrier deems necessary to verify the application for coverage under a plan.

The Commissioner of the Division of Insurance will oversee and regulate insurance carrier denials and cancellations.
Requires that carriers offering health benefit plans for individuals or small groups report to the Division of Insurance (DOI) the current and projected Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) for health plans, projected administrative expenses, and other specific financial information.

Requires that carriers file changes to small group base rates 90 days prior to effective date. The DOI Commissioner must disapprove changes that are excessive, inadequate or unreasonable in relation to the benefits charged. Base rates filed by a carrier shall be presumptively disapproved as excessive if:

• Administrative expenses increase by more than the most recent percentage increase in the New England medical CPI; or

• A carrier’s contribution to surplus exceeds 1.9% (or 2.5% for carrier’s with a Risk Based Capital Ratio below 300% for four consecutive quarters); or

• The aggregate MLR for all small group plans is less than 88%.  

If a carrier’s rates are disapproved solely for failing to meet the MLR threshold, the rates will not be presumptively disapproved if the projected MLR increases by at least 1% over the MLR for the previous 12 months.  At the end of the year covered by the filing, if the MLR is less than the 88% threshold, carriers must issue refunds equal to the amount of premium above that which is necessary to achieve an MLR of 88%.

The DOI Commissioner must hold a public hearing if a proposed base rate has been presumptively disapproved, at which the Attorney General may intervene.  The DOI must notify carriers of a disapproved rate at least 45 days before the proposed effective date. Within 10 days, the carrier may request a hearing, which must be scheduled within 15 days and a decision must be issued within 30 days after the hearing.
Increases the required minimum Medical Loss Ratio (established in Section 29) from 88% to 90% effective October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012.
Starting October 1, 2012, a carrier’s base rate changes will no longer be presumptively disapproved based on administrative expenses, surplus or Medical Loss Ratio (MLR).  The Division of Insurance (DOI), however, will continue to have authority to disapprove a carrier’s proposed change to base rates that are excessive, inadequate or unreasonable. If a proposed rate has been disapproved, a health plan issuer must inform all employees and individuals covered under the small group product that the proposed rate has been disapproved.

The DOI Commissioner must hold a public hearing if a proposed base rate has been presumptively disapproved, at which the Attorney General may intervene. The DOI must notify carriers of a disapproved rate at least 45 days before the proposed effective date. Within 10 days, the carrier may request a hearing, which must be scheduled within 15 days and a decision must be issued within 30 days after the hearing.
Requires selective or tiered network plan to be offered by all health plans that provide coverage through a closed network of health care providers to at least 5,000 individuals, employees, and dependents in the individual and small group maket. The plan must offer enrollees in at least one geographic area at least one selective or tiered provider network plan at a premium rate that is at least 12% lower than a plan with comparable benefits but without a selective network of providers.

The Division of Insurance (DOI) will determine network adequacy based on listed factors. Carriers may reclassify provider tiers or determine participation in selective or tiered network plans once per calendar year but may add providers or move them to a lower cost tier at any time. Carriers must provide 30 days notice prior to reclassification of providers. Each health plan must report on its website information about the tiered or selective plan and on providers participating in the plan. The DOI must report annually to the legislature on utilization trends of individuals and groups in these plans.

Section 32 is effective during 2011, and is replaced by Section 33, which expands Section 32 to include methods a health plan may use to achieve cost savings within the selective or tiered plan.
Expands Section 32 to include methods that a health plan may use to achieve cost savings within the selective or tiered plan available to the individual and small business market, such as excluding from a tiered or selective network those providers with similar or lower quality based on the standard quality measure set and higher health status adjusted total medical expense or relative price, or by increasing member cost sharing for non-emergency services rendered by those providers.

The Division of Insurance must establish regulations requiring uniform reporting of tiering information, including a detailed description of the methodology used to determine how providers were tiered, at least 90 days before any tiered network becomes effective.
Creates a market for up to six small business group purchasing cooperatives to operate in the state. The purpose of creating the cooperatives is to allow small businesses to combine purchasing power and to seek lower premiums as a larger group. Division of Insurance (DOI) must establish an application and certification process for the cooperatives and must certify up to six applications that meet DOI requirements. Approved group purchasing cooperatives may cover up to a combined number of 85,000 covered lives at any given time.

Plan benefits must include those mandated by the state as well as access to a wellness program. At least 33% of covered employees of each cooperative must commit to enrolling in the health management programs the cooperative must provide. A cooperative may not deny coverage to any employee or dependent of association members based on health condition, age, race, or sex. Premiums for a particular plan offered to a member of a cooperative must be equal to or less than premiums an insurer would charge that small business if it was seeking benefits outside of the cooperative.

Products may be sold through brokers, licensed agents and the Connector.

Within 2 years of the first small business group purchasing cooperative certification, DOI must report to the legislature on the cost savings to members of the cooperatives, any impact the cooperatives have on the state risk pool and premium costs in the merged market, and whether DOI should continue certifying cooperatives.
Requires any insurance carrier that has a combined total of at least 5,000 eligible individuals, employees, and dependents, and wishes to continue offering health plans in the individual and small group market, to file a plan with each group purchasing cooperative if the group purchasing cooperative requests such health plan proposal for its next plan year. Any health plan option offered to a cooperative must include all state mandated benefits, and must apply the same preexisting coverage limitations, waiting periods, open enrollment periods and rating rules as applied to small groups outside the cooperative.
Amended to allow a carrier to seek approval from the Commissioner of the Division of Insurance (DOI) to discontinue a closed guarantee issue health plan pursuant to DOI regulations. Prior to this amendment, a carrier could only discontinue a closed guarantee issue health plan if the number of subscribers in the plan was less than 25% of the plan’s 2004 subscriber total. Furthermore, no carrier may deny coverage to, impose any pre-existing condition exclusion, or impose any waiting period on an individual or dependent who is eligible for a guaranteed issue health plan.
The Bureau of Managed Care within the Division of Insurance (DOI) is directed to require, as a condition of accreditation, that carriers adopt uniform standards and methodologies for credentialing health care providers. Also, any carrier that contracts with a third party administrator must ensure that the third party complies with the standards.

By way of background, the Bureau of Managed Care within DOI determines standards and procedures for accreditation of health insurance carriers. The Bureau must consult with the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, the Department of Public Health, the Group Insurance Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and each health insurance carrier to develop the standards.
Requires insurance carriers, including third party administrators of insurance plans, to report information to the Division of Insurance (DOI) on premiums earned, membership, medical loss ratio, and other detailed financial information associated with business operations. Carriers must annually report this information to DOI each April 1st to avoid a late penalty and may subsequently be subject to an audit. Information collected under this provision will be available to the public, and DOI must issue an annual report of information collected under this provision to the legislature. Any carrier that reports a risk-based capital ratio over 700% must participate in a public hearing to determine what portion of excess funds will go toward reducing the costs of health benefit plans or for health care quality improvement.

DOI may develop procedures to carry out the requirements of this section, including requiring the registration of third party administrators and standardizing reporting criteria, after consulting with state and federal agencies and affected carriers to ensure that regulations are not duplicative.
Instructs the Division of Insurance (DOI), in consultation with the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, to establish regulations directing health insurance carriers to calculate and report medical loss ratios of health benefit plans. The regulations must provide definitions for carriers to distinguish between medical claims expenditures and administrative cost expenditures. Before adopting final regulations, DOI must consult with designated stakeholders.
Instructs the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP), in consultation with the Division of Insurance, to establish regulations directing health insurance carriers to calculate and report health status adjusted total medical expenses for provider groups determined by zip code. In the regulations, DHCFP must specify a uniform method for calculating total medical expenses among each provider group, determine which non-claim related payments must be included in the calculations, account for health status and number of patients within each group, and specify reporting requirements.
Instructs the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP), in consultation with the Division of Insurance, to establish regulations directing health insurance carriers to calculate and report relative prices paid to health care facilities and providers. In the regulations, DHCFP must specify a method to account for a uniform mix of products and services and all non-claims related payments to providers.
Instructs the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP), in consultation with the Division of Insurance, to establish regulations directing hospitals to calculate and report all costs, including inpatient and outpatient costs and direct and indirect costs. Calculations must include costs and cost trends for labor, debt-related expenses, advertising and marketing, insurance, health information technology, management, research, academic costs, contributions, and all business operation costs. Before adopting final regulations, DHCFP must consult with designated stakeholders.
Directs the Division of Insurance (DOI), in consultation with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, to establish regulations by December 1, 2011 to simplify health care facility and provider administrative duties of processing claims for health care services. At a minimum, the regulations must create a standard prior authorization form for providers and must specify uniform standards for determining member eligibility and processing provider appeals of denied claims. Establishes a new commission to study the feasibility and financial implications of mandating a single claims administration system that would require the participation of all public and private health insurance payers, other than Medicare, in the Commonwealth. DOI must consult with this commission before adopting regulations under this section.