§ 2590.715-2719A Patient protections.


Latest version.
  • (a) Choice of health care professional—(1) Designation of primary care provider—(i) In general. If a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, requires or provides for designation by a participant or beneficiary of a participating primary care provider, then the plan or issuer must permit each participant or beneficiary to designate any participating primary care provider who is available to accept the participant or beneficiary. In such a case, the plan or issuer must comply with the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section by informing each participant of the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage regarding designation of a primary care provider.

    (ii) Construction. Nothing in paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section is to be construed to prohibit the application of reasonable and appropriate geographic limitations with respect to the selection of primary care providers, in accordance with the terms of the plan or coverage, the underlying provider contracts, and applicable State law.

    (iii) Example. The rules of this paragraph (a)(1) are illustrated by the following example:

    (2) Designation of pediatrician as primary care provider—(i) In general. If a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, requires or provides for the designation of a participating primary care provider for a child by a participant or beneficiary, the plan or issuer must permit the participant or beneficiary to designate a physician (allopathic or osteopathic) who specializes in pediatrics (including pediatric subspecialties, based on the scope of that provider's license under applicable State law) as the child's primary care provider if the provider participates in the network of the plan or issuer and is available to accept the child. In such a case, the plan or issuer must comply with the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section by informing each participant of the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage regarding designation of a pediatrician as the child's primary care provider.

    (ii) Construction. Nothing in paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section is to be construed to waive any exclusions of coverage under the terms and conditions of the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to coverage of pediatric care.

    (iii) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (a)(2) are illustrated by the following examples:

    (3) Patient access to obstetrical and gynecological care—(i) General rights—(A) Direct access. A group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, described in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section may not require authorization or referral by the plan, issuer, or any person (including a primary care provider) in the case of a female participant or beneficiary who seeks coverage for obstetrical or gynecological care provided by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology. In such a case, the plan or issuer must comply with the rules of paragraph (a)(4) of this section by informing each participant that the plan may not require authorization or referral for obstetrical or gynecological care by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology. The plan or issuer may require such a professional to agree to otherwise adhere to the plan's or issuer's policies and procedures, including procedures regarding referrals and obtaining prior authorization and providing services pursuant to a treatment plan (if any) approved by the plan or issuer. For purposes of this paragraph (a)(3), a health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology is any individual (including a person other than a physician) who is authorized under applicable State law to provide obstetrical or gynecological care.

    (B) Obstetrical and gynecological care. A group health plan or health insurance issuer described in paragraph (a)(3)(ii) of this section must treat the provision of obstetrical and gynecological care, and the ordering of related obstetrical and gynecological items and services, pursuant to the direct access described under paragraph (a)(3)(i)(A) of this section, by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology as the authorization of the primary care provider.

    (ii) Application of paragraph. A group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, is described in this paragraph (a)(3) if the plan or issuer—

    (A) Provides coverage for obstetrical or gynecological care; and

    (B) Requires the designation by a participant or beneficiary of a participating primary care provider.

    (iii) Construction. Nothing in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section is to be construed to—

    (A) Waive any exclusions of coverage under the terms and conditions of the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to coverage of obstetrical or gynecological care; or

    (B) Preclude the group health plan or health insurance issuer involved from requiring that the obstetrical or gynecological provider notify the primary care health care professional or the plan or issuer of treatment decisions.

    (iv) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (a)(3) are illustrated by the following examples:

    (4) Notice of right to designate a primary care provider—(i) In general. If a group health plan or health insurance issuer requires the designation by a participant or beneficiary of a primary care provider, the plan or issuer must provide a notice informing each participant of the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage regarding designation of a primary care provider and of the rights—

    (A) Under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, that any participating primary care provider who is available to accept the participant or beneficiary can be designated;

    (B) Under paragraph (a)(2)(i) of this section, with respect to a child, that any participating physician who specializes in pediatrics can be designated as the primary care provider; and

    (C) Under paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, that the plan may not require authorization or referral for obstetrical or gynecological care by a participating health care professional who specializes in obstetrics or gynecology.

    (ii) Timing. The notice described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section must be included whenever the plan or issuer provides a participant with a summary plan description or other similar description of benefits under the plan or health insurance coverage.

    (iii) Model language. The following model language can be used to satisfy the notice requirement described in paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section:

    (A) For plans and issuers that require or allow for the designation of primary care providers by participants or beneficiaries, insert:

    (B) For plans and issuers that require or allow for the designation of a primary care provider for a child, add:

    For children, you may designate a pediatrician as the primary care provider.

    (C) For plans and issuers that provide coverage for obstetric or gynecological care and require the designation by a participant or beneficiary of a primary care provider, add:

    (b) Coverage of emergency services—(1) Scope. If a group health plan, or a health insurance issuer offering group health insurance coverage, provides any benefits with respect to services in an emergency department of a hospital, the plan or issuer must cover emergency services (as defined in paragraph (b)(4)(ii) of this section) consistent with the rules of this paragraph (b).

    (2) General rules. A plan or issuer subject to the requirements of this paragraph (b) must provide coverage for emergency services in the following manner—

    (i) Without the need for any prior authorization determination, even if the emergency services are provided on an out-of-network basis;

    (ii) Without regard to whether the health care provider furnishing the emergency services is a participating network provider with respect to the services;

    (iii) If the emergency services are provided out of network, without imposing any administrative requirement or limitation on coverage that is more restrictive than the requirements or limitations that apply to emergency services received from in-network providers;

    (iv) If the emergency services are provided out of network, by complying with the cost-sharing requirements of paragraph (b)(3) of this section; and

    (v) Without regard to any other term or condition of the coverage, other than—

    (A) The exclusion of or coordination of benefits;

    (B) An affiliation or waiting period permitted under part 7 of ERISA, part A of title XXVII of the PHS Act, or chapter 100 of the Internal Revenue Code; or

    (C) Applicable cost sharing.

    (3) Cost-sharing requirements—(i) Copayments and coinsurance. Any cost-sharing requirement expressed as a copayment amount or coinsurance rate imposed with respect to a participant or beneficiary for out-of-network emergency services cannot exceed the cost-sharing requirement imposed with respect to a participant or beneficiary if the services were provided in-network. However, a participant or beneficiary may be required to pay, in addition to the in-network cost sharing, the excess of the amount the out-of-network provider charges over the amount the plan or issuer is required to pay under this paragraph (b)(3)(i). A group health plan or health insurance issuer complies with the requirements of this paragraph (b)(3) if it provides benefits with respect to an emergency service in an amount at least equal to the greatest of the three amounts specified in paragraphs (b)(3)(i)(A), (B), and (C) of this section (which are adjusted for in-network cost-sharing requirements).

    (A) The amount negotiated with in-network providers for the emergency service furnished, excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary. If there is more than one amount negotiated with in-network providers for the emergency service, the amount described under this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) is the median of these amounts, excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary. In determining the median described in the preceding sentence, the amount negotiated with each in-network provider is treated as a separate amount (even if the same amount is paid to more than one provider). If there is no per-service amount negotiated with in-network providers (such as under a capitation or other similar payment arrangement), the amount under this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) is disregarded.

    (B) The amount for the emergency service calculated using the same method the plan generally uses to determine payments for out-of-network services (such as the usual, customary, and reasonable amount), excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary. The amount in this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B) is determined without reduction for out-of-network cost sharing that generally applies under the plan or health insurance coverage with respect to out-of-network services. Thus, for example, if a plan generally pays 70 percent of the usual, customary, and reasonable amount for out-of-network services, the amount in this paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B) for an emergency service is the total (that is, 100 percent) of the usual, customary, and reasonable amount for the service, not reduced by the 30 percent coinsurance that would generally apply to out-of-network services (but reduced by the in-network copayment or coinsurance that the individual would be responsible for if the emergency service had been provided in-network).

    (C) The amount that would be paid under Medicare (part A or part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395 et seq.) for the emergency service, excluding any in-network copayment or coinsurance imposed with respect to the participant or beneficiary.

    (ii) Other cost sharing. Any cost-sharing requirement other than a copayment or coinsurance requirement (such as a deductible or out-of-pocket maximum) may be imposed with respect to emergency services provided out of network if the cost-sharing requirement generally applies to out-of-network benefits. A deductible may be imposed with respect to out-of-network emergency services only as part of a deductible that generally applies to out-of-network benefits. If an out-of-pocket maximum generally applies to out-of-network benefits, that out-of-pocket maximum must apply to out-of-network emergency services.

    (iii) Special rules regarding out-of-network minimum payment standards—(A) The minimum payment standards set forth under paragraph (b)(3) of this section do not apply in cases where State law prohibits a participant or beneficiary from being required to pay, in addition to the in-network cost sharing, the excess of the amount the out-of-network provider charges over the amount the plan or issuer provides in benefits, or where a group health plan or health insurance issuer is contractually responsible for such amounts. Nonetheless, in such cases, a plan or issuer may not impose any copayment or coinsurance requirement for out-of-network emergency services that is higher than the copayment or coinsurance requirement that would apply if the services were provided in network.

    (B) A group health plan and health insurance issuer must provide a participant or beneficiary adequate and prominent notice of their lack of financial responsibility with respect to the amounts described under this paragraph (b)(3)(iii), to prevent inadvertent payment by the participant or beneficiary.

    (iv) Examples. The rules of this paragraph (b)(3) are illustrated by the following examples. In all of these examples, the group health plan covers benefits with respect to emergency services.

    (4) Definitions. The definitions in this paragraph (b)(4) govern in applying the provisions of this paragraph (b).

    (i) Emergency medical condition. The term emergency medical condition means a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) so that a prudent layperson, who possesses an average knowledge of health and medicine, could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in a condition described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of section 1867(e)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(1)(A)). (In that provision of the Social Security Act, clause (i) refers to placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy; clause (ii) refers to serious impairment to bodily functions; and clause (iii) refers to serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.)

    (ii) Emergency services. The term emergency services means, with respect to an emergency medical condition—

    (A) A medical screening examination (as required under section 1867 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395dd) that is within the capability of the emergency department of a hospital, including ancillary services routinely available to the emergency department to evaluate such emergency medical condition, and

    (B) Such further medical examination and treatment, to the extent they are within the capabilities of the staff and facilities available at the hospital, as are required under section 1867 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd) to stabilize the patient.

    (iii) Stabilize. The term to stabilize, with respect to an emergency medical condition (as defined in paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section) has the meaning given in section 1867(e)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(3)).

    (c) Applicability date. The provisions of this section are applicable to group health plans and health insurance issuers for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017. Until the applicability date for this regulation, plans and issuers are required to continue to comply with the corresponding sections of 29 CFR part 2590, contained in the 29 CFR, parts 1927 to end, edition revised as of July 1, 2015.

    [80 FR 72270, Nov. 18, 2015]

[80 FR 72270, Nov. 18, 2015