2017 New Jersey Revised Statutes
TITLE 17B - INSURANCE
Section 17B:27A-19 - Health benefits plans offered to small employers; exceptions.

17B:27A-19 Health benefits plans offered to small employers; exceptions.

3. a. Except as provided in subsection f. of this section, every small employer carrier shall, as a condition of transacting business in this State, offer to every small employer at least three of the health benefit plans established by the board, as provided in this section, and also offer and make a good faith effort to market individual health benefits plans as provided in section 3 of P.L.1992, c.161 (C.17B:27A-4). The board shall establish a standard policy form for each of the plans, which except as otherwise provided in subsection j. of this section, shall be the only plans offered to small groups on or after January 1, 1994. One policy form shall contain the benefits provided for in sections 55, 57, and 59 of P.L.1991, c.187 (C.17:48E-22.2, 17B:26B-2 and 26:2J-4.3). In the case of indemnity carriers, one policy form shall be established which contains benefits and cost sharing levels which are equivalent to the health benefits plans of health maintenance organizations pursuant to the "Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973," Pub.L.93-222 (42 U.S.C. s.300e et seq.). The remaining policy forms shall contain basic hospital and medical-surgical benefits, including, but not limited to:

(1) Basic inpatient and outpatient hospital care;

(2) Basic and extended medical-surgical benefits;

(3) Diagnostic tests, including X-rays;

(4) Maternity benefits, including prenatal and postnatal care; and

(5) Preventive medicine, including periodic physical examinations and inoculations.

At least three of the forms shall provide for major medical benefits in varying lifetime aggregates, one of which shall provide at least $1,000,000 in lifetime aggregate benefits. The policy forms provided pursuant to this section shall contain benefits representing progressively greater actuarial values.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection to the contrary, the board also may establish additional policy forms by which a small employer carrier, other than a health maintenance organization, may provide indemnity benefits for health maintenance organization enrollees by direct contract with the enrollees' small employer through a dual arrangement with the health maintenance organization. The dual arrangement shall be filed with the commissioner for approval. The additional policy forms shall be consistent with the general requirements of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-17 et seq.).

b. Initially, a carrier shall offer a plan within 90 days of the approval of such plan by the commissioner. Thereafter, the plans shall be available to all small employers on a continuing basis. Every small employer which elects to be covered under any health benefits plan who pays the premium therefor and who satisfies the participation requirements of the plan shall be issued a policy or contract by the carrier.

c. The carrier may establish a premium payment plan which provides installment payments and which may contain reasonable provisions to ensure payment security, provided that provisions to ensure payment security are uniformly applied.

d. In addition to the standard policies described in subsection a. of this section, the board may develop up to five rider packages. Any such package which a carrier chooses to offer shall be issued to a small employer who pays the premium therefor, and shall be subject to the rating methodology set forth in section 9 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-25).

e. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2008, c.38).

f. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, a health maintenance organization which is a qualified health maintenance organization pursuant to the "Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973," Pub.L.93-222 (42 U.S.C. s.300e et seq.) shall be permitted to offer health benefits plans formulated by the board and approved by the commissioner which are in accordance with the provisions of that law in lieu of the plans required pursuant to this section.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, a health maintenance organization which is approved pursuant to P.L.1973, c.337 (C.26:2J-1 et seq.) shall be permitted to offer health benefits plans formulated by the board and approved by the commissioner which are in accordance with the provisions of that law in lieu of the plans required pursuant to this section, except that the plans shall provide the same level of benefits as required for a federally qualified health maintenance organization, including any requirements concerning copayments by enrollees.

g. A carrier shall not be required to own or control a health maintenance organization or otherwise affiliate with a health maintenance organization in order to comply with the provisions of this section, but the carrier shall be required to offer at least three of the health benefits plans which are formulated by the board and approved by the commissioner, including one plan which contains benefits and cost sharing levels that are equivalent to those required for health maintenance organizations.

h. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of this section to the contrary, the board may modify the benefits provided for in sections 55, 57 and 59 of P.L.1991, c.187 (C.17:48E-22.2, 17B:26B-2 and 26:2J-4.3).

i. (1) In addition to the rider packages provided for in subsection d. of this section, every carrier may offer, in connection with the health benefits plans required to be offered by this section, any number of riders which may revise the coverage offered by the plans in any way, provided, however, that any form of such rider or amendment thereof which decreases benefits or decreases the actuarial value of a plan shall be filed for informational purposes with the board and for approval by the commissioner before such rider may be sold. Any rider or amendment thereof which adds benefits or increases the actuarial value of a plan shall be filed with the board for informational purposes before such rider may be sold. The added premium or reduction in premium for each rider, as applicable, shall be listed separately from the premium for the standard plan.

The commissioner shall disapprove any rider filed pursuant to this subsection that is unjust, unfair, inequitable, unreasonably discriminatory, misleading, contrary to law or the public policy of this State. The commissioner shall not approve any rider which reduces benefits below those required by sections 55, 57 and 59 of P.L.1991, c.187 (C.17:48E-22.2, 17B:26B-2 and 26:2J-4.3) and required to be sold pursuant to this section. The commissioner's determination shall be in writing and shall be appealable.

(2) The benefit riders provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be subject to the provisions of section 2, subsection b. of section 3, and sections 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-18, 17B:27A-19, 17B:27A-22, 17B:27A-23, 17B:27A-24, 17B:27A-25, and 17B:27A-27).

j. (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-17 et seq.) to the contrary, a health benefits plan issued by or through a carrier, association, or multiple employer arrangement prior to January 1, 1994 or, if the requirements of subparagraph (c) of paragraph (6) of this subsection are met, issued by or through an out-of-State trust prior to January 1, 1994, at the option of a small employer policy or contract holder, may be renewed or continued after February 28, 1994, or in the case of such a health benefits plan whose anniversary date occurred between March 1, 1994 and the effective date of P.L.1994, c.11 (C.17B:27A-19.1 et al.), may be reinstated within 60 days of that anniversary date and renewed or continued if, beginning on the first 12-month anniversary date occurring on or after the sixtieth day after the board adopts regulations concerning the implementation of the rating factors permitted by section 9 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-25) and, regardless of the situs of delivery of the health benefits plan, the health benefits plan renewed, continued or reinstated pursuant to this subsection complies with the provisions of section 2, subsection b. of section 3, and sections 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-18, 17B:27A-19, 17B:27A-22, 17B:27A-23, 17B:27A-24, 17B:27A-25 and 17B:27A-27) and section 7 of P.L.1995, c.340 (C.17B:27A-19.3).

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require an association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust to provide health benefits coverage to small employers that are not contemplated by the organizational documents, bylaws, or other regulations governing the purpose and operation of the association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust. Notwithstanding the foregoing provision to the contrary, an association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust that offers health benefits coverage to its members' employees and dependents:

(a) shall offer coverage to all eligible employees and their dependents within the membership of the association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust;

(b) shall not use actual or expected health status in determining its membership; and

(c) shall make available to its small employer members at least one of the standard benefits plans, as determined by the commissioner, in addition to any health benefits plan permitted to be renewed or continued pursuant to this subsection.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection to the contrary, a carrier or out-of-State trust which writes the health benefits plans required pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be required to offer those plans to any small employer, association or multiple employer arrangement.

(3) (a) A carrier, association, multiple employer arrangement, or out-of-State trust may withdraw a health benefits plan marketed to small employers that was in effect on December 31, 1993 with the approval of the commissioner. The commissioner shall approve a request to withdraw a plan, consistent with regulations adopted by the commissioner, only on the grounds that retention of the plan would cause an unreasonable financial burden to the issuing carrier, taking into account the rating provisions of section 9 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-25) and section 7 of P.L.1995, c.340 (C.17B:27A-19.3).

(b) A carrier which has renewed, continued or reinstated a health benefits plan pursuant to this subsection that has not been newly issued to a new small employer group since January 1, 1994, may, upon approval of the commissioner, continue to establish its rates for that plan based on the loss experience of that plan if the carrier does not issue that health benefits plan to any new small employer groups.

(4) (Deleted by amendment, P.L.1995, c.340).

(5) A health benefits plan that otherwise conforms to the requirements of this subsection shall be deemed to be in compliance with this subsection, notwithstanding any change in the plan's deductible or copayment.

(6) (a) Except as otherwise provided in subparagraphs (b) and (c) of this paragraph, a health benefits plan renewed, continued or reinstated pursuant to this subsection shall be filed with the commissioner for informational purposes within 30 days after its renewal date. No later than 60 days after the board adopts regulations concerning the implementation of the rating factors permitted by section 9 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-25) the filing shall be amended to show any modifications in the plan that are necessary to comply with the provisions of this subsection. The commissioner shall monitor compliance of any such plan with the requirements of this subsection, except that the board shall enforce the loss ratio requirements.

(b) A health benefits plan filed with the commissioner pursuant to subparagraph (a) of this paragraph may be amended as to its benefit structure if the amendment does not reduce the actuarial value and benefits coverage of the health benefits plan below that of the lowest standard health benefits plan established by the board pursuant to subsection a. of this section. The amendment shall be filed with the commissioner for approval pursuant to the terms of sections 4, 8, 12 and 25 of P.L.1995, c.73 (C.17:48-8.2, 17:48A-9.2, 17:48E-13.2 and 26:2J-43), N.J.S.17B:26-1 and N.J.S.17B:27-49, as applicable, and shall comply with the provisions of sections 2 and 9 of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-18 and 17B:27A-25) and section 7 of P.L.1995, c.340 (C.17B:27A-19.3).

(c) A health benefits plan issued by a carrier through an out-of-State trust shall be permitted to be renewed or continued pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection upon approval by the commissioner and only if the benefits offered under the plan are at least equal to the actuarial value and benefits coverage of the lowest standard health benefits plan established by the board pursuant to subsection a. of this section. For the purposes of meeting the requirements of this subparagraph, carriers shall be required to file with the commissioner the health benefits plans issued through an out-of-State trust no later than 180 days after the date of enactment of P.L.1995, c.340. A health benefits plan issued by a carrier through an out-of-State trust that is not filed with the commissioner pursuant to this subparagraph, shall not be permitted to be continued or renewed after the 180-day period.

(7) Notwithstanding the provisions of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-17 et seq.) to the contrary, an association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust may offer a health benefits plan authorized to be renewed, continued or reinstated pursuant to this subsection to small employer groups that are otherwise eligible pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection j. of this section during the period for which such health benefits plan is otherwise authorized to be renewed, continued or reinstated.

(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-17 et seq.) to the contrary, a carrier, association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust may offer coverage under a health benefits plan authorized to be renewed, continued or reinstated pursuant to this subsection to new employees of small employer groups covered by the health benefits plan in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(9) Notwithstanding the provisions of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-17 et seq.) or P.L.1992, c.161 (C.17B:27A-2 et al.) to the contrary, any individual, who is eligible for small employer coverage under a policy issued, renewed, continued or reinstated pursuant to this subsection, but who would be subject to a preexisting condition exclusion under the small employer health benefits plan, or who is a member of a small employer group who has been denied coverage under the small employer group health benefits plan for health reasons, may elect to purchase or continue coverage under an individual health benefits plan until such time as the group health benefits plan covering the small employer group of which the individual is a member complies with the provisions of P.L.1992, c.162 (C.17B:27A-17 et seq.).

(10) In a case in which an association made available a health benefits plan on or before March 1, 1994 and subsequently changed the issuing carrier between March 1, 1994 and the effective date of P.L.1995, c.340, the new issuing carrier shall be deemed to have been eligible to continue and renew the plan pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(11) In a case in which an association, multiple employer arrangement or out-of-State trust made available a health benefits plan on or before March 1, 1994 and subsequently changes the issuing carrier for that plan after the effective date of P.L.1995, c.340, the new issuing carrier shall file the health benefits plan with the commissioner for approval in order to be deemed eligible to continue and renew that plan pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(12) In a case in which a small employer purchased a health benefits plan directly from a carrier on or before March 1, 1994 and subsequently changes the issuing carrier for that plan after the effective date of P.L.1995, c.340, the new issuing carrier shall file the health benefits plan with the commissioner for approval in order to be deemed eligible to continue and renew that plan pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (6) of this subsection to the contrary, a small employer who changes its health benefits plan's issuing carrier pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph, shall not, upon changing carriers, modify the benefit structure of that health benefits plan within six months of the date the issuing carrier was changed.

k. Effective immediately for a health benefits plan issued on or after the effective date of P.L.2005, c.248 (C.17:48E-35.27 et al.) and effective on the first 12-month anniversary date of a health benefits plan in effect on the effective date of P.L.2005, c.248 (C.17:48E-35.27 et al.), the health benefits plans required pursuant to this section, including any plans offered by a State approved or federally qualified health maintenance organization, shall contain benefits for expenses incurred in the following:

(1) Screening by blood lead measurement for lead poisoning for children, including confirmatory blood lead testing as specified by the Department of Health pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1995, c.316 (C.26:2-137.1); and medical evaluation and any necessary medical follow-up and treatment for lead poisoned children.

(2) All childhood immunizations as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Public Health Service and the Department of Health pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1995, c.316 (C.26:2-137.1). A carrier shall notify its insureds, in writing, of any change in the health care services provided with respect to childhood immunizations and any related changes in premium. Such notification shall be in a form and manner to be determined by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.

(3) Screening for newborn hearing loss by appropriate electrophysiologic screening measures and periodic monitoring of infants for delayed onset hearing loss, pursuant to P.L.2001, c.373 (C.26:2-103.1 et al.). Payment for this screening service shall be separate and distinct from payment for routine new baby care in the form of a newborn hearing screening fee as negotiated with the provider and facility.

The benefits provided pursuant to this subsection shall be provided to the same extent as for any other medical condition under the health benefits plan, except that a deductible shall not be applied for benefits provided pursuant to this subsection; however, with respect to a small employer health benefits plan that qualifies as a high deductible health plan for which qualified medical expenses are paid using a health savings account established pursuant to section 223 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. s.223), a deductible shall not be applied for any benefits that represent preventive care as permitted by that federal law, and shall not be applied as provided pursuant to section 16 of P.L.2005, c.248 (C.17B:27A-19.14). This subsection shall apply to all small employer health benefits plans in which the carrier has reserved the right to change the premium.

l. The board shall consider including benefits for speech-language pathology and audiology services, as rendered by speech-language pathologists and audiologists within the scope of their practices, in at least one of the standard policies and in at least one of the five riders to be developed under this section.

m. Effective immediately for a health benefits plan issued on or after the effective date of P.L.2001, c.361 (C.17:48-6z et al.) and effective on the first 12-month anniversary date of a health benefits plan in effect on the effective date of P.L.2001, c.361 (C.17:48-6z et al.), the health benefits plans required pursuant to this section that provide benefits for expenses incurred in the purchase of prescription drugs shall provide benefits for expenses incurred in the purchase of specialized non-standard infant formulas, when the covered infant's physician has diagnosed the infant as having multiple food protein intolerance and has determined such formula to be medically necessary, and when the covered infant has not been responsive to trials of standard non-cow milk-based formulas, including soybean and goat milk. The coverage may be subject to utilization review, including periodic review, of the continued medical necessity of the specialized infant formula.

The benefits shall be provided to the same extent as for any other prescribed items under the health benefits plan.

This subsection shall apply to all small employer health benefits plans in which the carrier has reserved the right to change the premium.

n. Effective immediately for a health benefits plan issued on or after the effective date of P.L.2005, c.248 (C.17:48E-35.27 et al.) and effective on the first 12-month anniversary date of a small employer health benefits plan in effect on the effective date of P.L.2005, c.248 (C.17:48E-35.27 et al.), the health benefits plans required pursuant to this section that qualify as high deductible health plans for which qualified medical expenses are paid using a health savings account established pursuant to section 223 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. s.223), including any plans offered by a State approved or federally qualified health maintenance organization, shall contain benefits for expenses incurred in connection with any medically necessary benefits provided in-network that represent preventive care as permitted by that federal law.

The benefits provided pursuant to this subsection shall be provided to the same extent as for any other medical condition under the health benefits plan, except that no deductible shall be applied for benefits provided pursuant to this subsection. This subsection shall apply to all small employer health benefits plans in which the carrier has reserved the right to change the premium.

L.1992, c.162, s.3; amended 1993, c.162, s.2; 1994, c.11, s.2; 1995, c.316, s.6; 1995, c.340, s.2; 1997, c.419, s.6; 2001, c.361, s.8; 2001, c.373, s.15; 2005, c.248, s.15; 2008, c.38, s.21; 2012, c.17, s.58.

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