2013 Mississippi Code
Title 83 - INSURANCE
§ 83-9-6 - Freedom of consumer choice for pharmacy under certain health insurance

MS Code § 83-9-6 (2013) What's This?

(1) This section shall apply to all health benefit plans providing pharmaceutical services benefits, including prescription drugs, to any resident of Mississippi. This section shall also apply to insurance companies and health maintenance organizations that provide or administer coverages and benefits for prescription drugs. This section shall not apply to any entity that has its own facility, employs or contracts with physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other health care personnel, and that dispenses prescription drugs from its own pharmacy to its employees and dependents enrolled in its health benefit plan; but this section shall apply to an entity otherwise excluded that contracts with an outside pharmacy or group of pharmacies to provide prescription drugs and services.

(2) As used in this section:

(a) "Copayment" means a type of cost sharing whereby insured or covered persons pay a specified predetermined amount per unit of service with their insurer paying the remainder of the charge. The copayment is incurred at the time the service is used. The copayment may be a fixed or variable amount.

(b) "Contract provider" means a pharmacy granted the right to provide prescription drugs and pharmacy services according to the terms of the insurer.

(c) "Health benefit plan" means any entity or program that provides reimbursement for pharmaceutical services.

(d) "Insurer" means any entity that provides or offers a health benefit plan.

(e) "Pharmacist" means a pharmacist licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Pharmacy.

(f) "Pharmacy" means a place licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Pharmacy.

(3) A health insurance plan, policy, employee benefit plan or health maintenance organization may not:

(a) Prohibit or limit any person who is a participant or beneficiary of the policy or plan from selecting a pharmacy or pharmacist of his choice who has agreed to participate in the plan according to the terms offered by the insurer;

(b) Deny a pharmacy or pharmacist the right to participate as a contract provider under the policy or plan if the pharmacy or pharmacist agrees to provide pharmacy services, including but not limited to prescription drugs, that meet the terms and requirements set forth by the insurer under the policy or plan and agrees to the terms of reimbursement set forth by the insurer;

(c) Impose upon a beneficiary of pharmacy services under a health benefit plan any copayment, fee or condition that is not equally imposed upon all beneficiaries in the same benefit category, class or copayment level under the health benefit plan when receiving services from a contract provider;

(d) Impose a monetary advantage or penalty under a health benefit plan that would affect a beneficiary's choice among those pharmacies or pharmacists who have agreed to participate in the plan according to the terms offered by the insurer. Monetary advantage or penalty includes higher copayment, a reduction in reimbursement for services, or promotion of one participating pharmacy over another by these methods;

(e) Reduce allowable reimbursement for pharmacy services to a beneficiary under a health benefit plan because the beneficiary selects a pharmacy of his or her choice, so long as that pharmacy has enrolled with the health benefit plan under the terms offered to all pharmacies in the plan coverage area;

(f) Require a beneficiary, as a condition of payment or reimbursement, to purchase pharmacy services, including prescription drugs, exclusively through a mail-order pharmacy; or

(g) Impose upon a beneficiary any copayment, amount of reimbursement, number of days of a drug supply for which reimbursement will be allowed, or any other payment or condition relating to purchasing pharmacy services from any pharmacy, including prescription drugs, that is more costly or more restrictive than that which would be imposed upon the beneficiary if such services were purchased from a mail-order pharmacy or any other pharmacy that is willing to provide the same services or products for the same cost and copayment as any mail order service.

(4) A pharmacy, by or through a pharmacist acting on its behalf as its employee, agent or owner, may not waive, discount, rebate or distort a copayment of any insurer, policy or plan or a beneficiary's coinsurance portion of a prescription drug coverage or reimbursement and if a pharmacy, by or through a pharmacist's acting on its behalf as its employee, agent or owner, provides a pharmacy service to an enrollee of a health benefit plan that meets the terms and requirements of the insurer under a health benefit plan, the pharmacy shall provide its pharmacy services to all enrollees of that health benefit plan on the same terms and requirements of the insurer. A violation of this subsection shall be a violation of the Pharmacy Practice Act subjecting the pharmacist as a licensee to disciplinary authority of the State Board of Pharmacy.

(5) If a health benefit plan providing reimbursement to Mississippi residents for prescription drugs restricts pharmacy participation, the entity providing the health benefit plan shall notify, in writing, all pharmacies within the geographical coverage area of the health benefit plan, and offer to the pharmacies the opportunity to participate in the health benefit plan at least sixty (60) days before the effective date of the plan or before July 1, 1995, whichever comes first. All pharmacies in the geographical coverage area of the plan shall be eligible to participate under identical reimbursement terms for providing pharmacy services, including prescription drugs. The entity providing the health benefit plan shall, through reasonable means, on a timely basis and on regular intervals, inform the beneficiaries of the plan of the names and locations of pharmacies that are participating in the plan as providers of pharmacy services and prescription drugs. Additionally, participating pharmacies shall be entitled to announce their participation to their customers through a means acceptable to the pharmacy and the entity providing the health benefit plans. The pharmacy notification provisions of this section shall not apply when an individual or group is enrolled, but when the plan enters a particular county of the state.

(6) A violation of this section creates a civil cause of action for injunctive relief in favor of any person or pharmacy aggrieved by the violation.

(7) The Commissioner of Insurance shall not approve any health benefit plan providing pharmaceutical services which does not conform to this section.

(8) Any provision in a health benefit plan which is executed, delivered or renewed, or otherwise contracted for in this state that is contrary to this section shall, to the extent of the conflict, be void.

(9) It is a violation of this section for any insurer or any person to provide any health benefit plan providing for pharmaceutical services to residents of this state that does not conform to this section.

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