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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions are used to provide additional information and/or statutory guidance not found in State Medicaid Director Letters, State Health Official Letters, or CMCS Informational Bulletins. The different sets of FAQs as originally released can be accessed below.Frequently Asked Questions are used to provide additional information and/or statutory guidance not found in State Medicaid Director Letters, State Health Official Letters, or CMCS Informational Bulletins. The different sets of FAQs as originally released can be accessed below.

FAQ Library

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When will we have final rules on essential health benefits, actuarial value, and rating?

In section 156.100 of the proposed rule on Essential Health Benefits/Actuarial Value/Accreditation, we propose criteria for the selection process for a state that chooses to select a benchmark plan. The essential health benefits benchmark plan would serve as a reference plan, reflecting both the scope of services and limits offered by a typical employer plan in that state. This approach and benchmark selection, which would apply for at least the 2014 and 2015 benefit years, would allow states to build on coverage that is already widely available, minimize market disruption, and provide consumers with familiar products. Since some base-benchmark plan options may not cover all ten of the statutorily required essential health benefits categories, we propose standards for supplementing a base-benchmark plan that does not provide coverage of one or more of the categories.

We also propose that if a base-benchmark plan option does not cover any items and services within an essential health benefits category, the base-benchmark plan must be supplemented by adding that particular category in its entirety from another base-benchmark plan option. The resulting plan, which would reflect a base-benchmark that covers all ten essential health benefits categories, must meet standards for nondiscrimination and balance. After meeting these standards, it would be considered the essential health benefits-benchmark plan.

The proposed rule also outlines the process by which HHS would supplement a default base-benchmark plan, if necessary. We clarify that to the extent that the default base-benchmark plan option does not cover any items and services within an essential health benefits category, the category must be added by supplementing the base-benchmark plan with that particular category in its entirety from another base-benchmark plan option. Specifically, we propose that HHS would supplement the category of benefits in the default base benchmark plan with the first of the following options that offer benefits in that particular essential health benefits category: (1) the largest plan by enrollment in the second largest product in the state's small group market; (2) the largest plan by enrollment in the third largest product in the state's small group market; (3) the largest national Federal Employees Health Benefit Program plan by enrollment across states that is offered to federal employees; (4) the largest dental plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, for pediatric oral care benefits; (5) the largest vision plan under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, for pediatric vision care benefits; and (6) habilitative services as described in section 156.110(f) or 156.115(a)(4).

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FAQ ID:94466

What level of benefit is required in a specific benchmark to satisfy the ten essential health benefit categories? What process will be undertaken by HHS to select backfilling benefit options if a state defaults to the largest small group product?

The U.S. Office of Personal Management released a proposed rule implementing the Multi-State Plan Program on November 30, 2012. To ensure that the Multi-State Plans are competing on a level playing field with other plans in the marketplace, the proposed regulation largely defers to state insurance law and the standards promulgated by HHS and states related to qualified health plans. Under the proposal, Multi-State Plans will be evaluated based largely on the same criteria as other qualified health plans operating in Exchanges. The few areas in which the Office of Personal Management proposes different regulatory standards from those applicable to qualified health plans are areas where the Office of Personal Management has extensive experience through its administration of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. However, in order to ensure that these few differences will not create any unfair advantages, the Office of Personal Management seeks comment from states and other stakeholders on these proposals. The regulation appeared in the Federal Register on December 5, 2012, and the comment period runs through January 4, 2013.

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FAQ ID:94471

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