2006 Georgia Code - 33-30A-433-30A-4. (a)(1) Membership in a health plan purchasing cooperative shall be voluntary. (2) A purchasing cooperative shall accept for membership in the cooperative any eligible small employer which agrees to pay the membership fee and a premium for coverage through the purchasing cooperative and which abides by the bylaws and rules of the purchasing cooperative. (3) A purchasing cooperative may, at its option, accept for membership in the cooperative any otherwise eligible employer which does not qualify as a small employer because it employed more than 50 eligible employees during 50 percent or more of its working days during the previous calendar quarter. (4) A purchasing cooperative may, at its option, accept for membership in the cooperative any otherwise eligible employer which does not qualify as a small employer because it is an individual or sole proprietor. If a purchasing cooperative chooses to accept such employers, the purchasing cooperative may not discriminate in the acceptance process based upon health status. (5) A purchasing cooperative and its contracted carriers shall comply with the small group health insurance rating requirements provided for in Code Section 33-30-12. (b) Each purchasing cooperative shall have the following powers, duties, and responsibilities: (1) Establishing and clearly defining the conditions of membership and participation in the purchasing cooperative. Each cooperative shall establish conditions for small employers which must include, but need not be limited to, assurance that the group is a valid small employer and is not formed for the purpose of securing health benefit coverage and assurance that the individuals in the small employer group are employees and have not been added for the purpose of securing health benefit coverage. A purchasing cooperative shall not establish or enforce membership conditions or participation requirements, bylaws, rules, or policies, financial or otherwise, which have the effect of excluding or including membership on the basis of health status of otherwise eligible individuals or other risk characteristics, including, but not limited to, industry type, occupation, experience, age, gender, family composition, education, avocation, or income; nor shall a purchasing cooperative require any small employer, employee, self-employed individual, or dependent to subscribe to limited accident and sickness insurance policies, products, or services not related to health care; (2) Providing to cooperative members clear, standardized information on each health benefit plan or other coverage offered by carriers through the cooperative to cooperative members, including information on price, enrollee costs, quality, patient satisfaction, enrollment, and enrollee responsibilities and obligations and providing health benefit plan and other insurance comparison sheets in accordance with department rule; (3) Annually offering to all members of the cooperative all health benefit plans and other insurance offered by carriers which meet the requirements of this chapter and which submit a responsive proposal as to information necessary for health benefit plans and other insurance comparison sheets and providing assistance to cooperative members in selecting and obtaining coverage with carriers that meet those requirements. A purchasing cooperative shall, whenever feasible, contract with multiple, unaffiliated carriers to offer health benefit plans and other insurance to its members. A purchasing cooperative may selectively contract with carriers based on the quality and cost effectiveness of services and other factors deemed to be relevant by the purchasing cooperative; (4) Requesting proposals for health benefit plans and other insurance from carriers; (5) Establishing administrative procedures and accounting procedures consistent with generally accepted accounting principles for the operation of the cooperative and members´ services, preparing an annual cooperative budget, and preparing annual program and fiscal reports on cooperative operations as required by this chapter; (6) Developing and implementing a marketing plan to publicize the cooperative to potential members; (7) Developing grievance procedures to be used in resolving disputes between members and the cooperative and disputes between carriers and the cooperative. Any member of, or carrier that serves, a cooperative shall not be prohibited from filing grievances directly with the department; (8) Ensuring that carriers have grievance procedures to be used in resolving disputes with members of the cooperative. A member may appeal to the cooperative any grievance that is not resolved by the carrier; (9) Maintaining all records, reports, and other information required by this chapter or by department rule or other applicable laws; (10) Contracting with qualified, independent third parties for any services necessary to carry out the powers and duties required by this chapter; (11) Assisting agents or employees in enrolling eligible members, employees, and dependents in selected health benefit plans and other insurance and services, establishing procedures for collecting premiums, collecting premiums, appropriately distributing collected premiums to participating carriers, and paying third-party contractors. The cooperative shall pay participating carriers their contracting premium amounts on a prepaid monthly basis or as otherwise mutually agreed upon; and (12) Working with participating carriers to establish standard criteria for selecting participating licensed agents. (c) Each cooperative may set and collect reasonable fees for membership in the cooperative which may finance reasonable and necessary costs incurred in administering the cooperative. Any such fee must be clearly identified and not inconsistent with the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection (b) of this Code section. (d)(1) Each cooperative shall provide semiannual financial statements and annual reports regarding cooperative programs and operations to the Commissioner. (2) Each cooperative shall provide for annual independent audits by a certified public accountant and make reports of such audits available to the Commissioner and the public. (3) Each purchasing cooperative shall file annually with the Commissioner, at such time and in such form and manner as specified by the Commissioner, evidence of adequate security and prudence in account, premium collection, and the handling and transfer of moneys and evidence of compliance with the provisions of this chapter, including a description of the specific services provided by the purchasing cooperative. (e) Each purchasing cooperative shall maintain a trust account or accounts for the deposit of any premium moneys collected. (f) Each purchasing cooperative shall disclose to the Commissioner any oral or written agreements made prior to its authorization as a purchasing cooperative. (g) Any act of selling health benefit plans or other insurance shall be in accordance with Chapter 23 of this title.
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