Montana Code Annotated 2023



Part 18. Small Employer Health Insurance Availability Act

Availability Of Coverage -- Required Plans

33-22-1811. Availability of coverage -- required plans. (1) (a) As a condition of transacting business in this state with small employers, each small employer carrier must have approved for issuance to small employer groups at least two health benefit plans.

(b) (i) A small employer carrier shall issue all plans marketed under this part to any eligible small employer that applies for a plan and agrees to make the required premium payments and to satisfy the other reasonable provisions of the health benefit plan not inconsistent with this part.

(ii) In the case of a small employer carrier that establishes more than one class of business pursuant to 33-22-1808, the small employer carrier shall maintain and offer to eligible small employers all plans marketed under this part in each established class of business. A small employer carrier may apply reasonable criteria in determining whether to accept a small employer into a class of business, provided that:

(A) the criteria are not intended to discourage or prevent acceptance of small employers applying for a health benefit plan;

(B) the criteria are not related to the health status or claims experience of the small employers' employees;

(C) the criteria are applied consistently to all small employers that apply for coverage in that class of business; and

(D) the small employer carrier provides for the acceptance of all eligible small employers into one or more classes of business.

(iii) The provisions of subsection (1)(b)(ii) may not be applied to a class of business into which the small employer carrier is no longer enrolling new small businesses.

(2) (a) A small employer carrier shall, pursuant to 33-1-501, file the basic health benefit plans and the standard health benefit plans to be used by the small employer carrier.

(b) The commissioner may at any time, after providing notice and an opportunity for a hearing to the small employer carrier, disapprove the continued use by a small employer carrier of a basic or standard health benefit plan on the grounds that the plan does not meet the requirements of this part.

(3) Health benefit plans covering small employers must comply with the following provisions:

(a) A health benefit plan may not:

(i) because of a preexisting condition, deny, exclude, or limit benefits for a covered individual for losses incurred more than 12 months following the individual's enrollment date. A health benefit plan may not define a preexisting condition exclusion more restrictively than 33-22-140.

(ii) use a preexisting condition exclusion more restrictive than exclusions allowed under 33-22-514.

(b) A health benefit plan must waive any time period applicable to a preexisting condition exclusion or limitation period with respect to particular services for the period of time that an individual was previously covered by creditable coverage that provided benefits with respect to those services if the creditable coverage was continuous to a date not more than 63 days prior to the submission of an application for new coverage. A health benefit plan may determine waivers of time periods applicable to preexisting condition exclusions or limitations on the basis of prior coverage of benefits within each of several classes or categories as specified in regulations implementing Public Law 104-191, rather than as provided in this subsection (3)(b). This subsection (3)(b) does not preclude application of any waiting period applicable to all new enrollees under the health benefit plan.

(c) A health benefit plan may exclude coverage for late enrollees for 18 months or for an 18-month preexisting condition exclusion, provided that if both a period of exclusion from coverage and a preexisting condition exclusion are applicable to a late enrollee, the combined period may not exceed 18 months from the date on which the individual enrolls for coverage under the health benefit plan.

(d) (i) Requirements used by a small employer carrier in determining whether to provide coverage to a small employer, including requirements for minimum participation of eligible employees and minimum employer contributions, must be applied uniformly among all small employers that have the same number of eligible employees and that apply for coverage or receive coverage from the small employer carrier. For the purpose of meeting minimum participation requirements of groups of four or more, a small employer carrier may not consider employees who, because they are covered under another health plan, waive coverage under the small employer's plan as part of the group of eligible employees. However, a small employer carrier may require at least two eligible employees to participate in a plan.

(ii) A small employer carrier may vary the application of minimum participation requirements and minimum employer contribution requirements only by the size of the small employer group.

(e) (i) If a small employer carrier offers coverage to a small employer, the small employer carrier shall offer coverage to all of the eligible employees of a small employer and their dependents. A small employer carrier may not offer coverage only to certain individuals in a small employer group or only to part of the group, except in the case of late enrollees as provided in subsection (3)(c).

(ii) A small employer carrier may not modify a plan marketed under this part with respect to a small employer or any eligible employee or dependent, through riders, endorsements, or otherwise, to restrict or exclude coverage for certain diseases or medical conditions otherwise covered by the health benefit plan.

(iii) A small employer carrier shall secure a waiver of coverage from each eligible employee who declines, at the sole discretion of the eligible employee, an offer of coverage under a health benefit plan provided by the small employer. The waiver must be signed by the eligible employee and must certify that the employee was informed of the availability of coverage under the health benefit plan and of the penalties for late enrollment. The waiver may not require the eligible employee to disclose the reasons for declining coverage.

(iv) A small employer carrier may not issue coverage to a small employer if the carrier or a producer for the carrier has evidence that the small employer induced or pressured an eligible employee to decline coverage due to the health status or risk characteristics of the eligible employee or of the dependents of the eligible employee.

(4) (a) A small employer carrier may not be required to offer coverage or accept applications pursuant to subsection (1) in the case of the following:

(i) to an employer whose employees do not work or reside within the small employer carrier's established geographic service area for a network plan, as defined in 33-22-140; or

(ii) within an area where the small employer carrier reasonably anticipates and demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commissioner that it will not have the capacity within its established geographic service area to deliver service adequately to the members of a group because of its obligations to existing group policyholders and enrollees. The small employer carrier may not deny coverage under this subsection unless the small employer carrier acts uniformly without regard to claims experience or health status-related factors of employers, employees, or dependents.

(b) A small employer carrier may not be required to provide coverage to small employers pursuant to subsection (1) for which the commissioner determines that the small employer carrier does not have the financial reserves necessary to underwrite additional coverage and that the small employer carrier has denied coverage of small employers uniformly throughout the state and without regard to the claims experience and health status-related factors of the applicant small employer groups. The small employer carrier exempted from providing coverage under this subsection may not offer coverage to small employer groups in this state for 180 days after the date on which coverage is denied or until the small employer carrier has demonstrated to the commissioner that the small employer carrier has sufficient financial reserves to underwrite additional coverage, whichever is later.

History: En. Sec. 29, Ch. 606, L. 1993; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 377, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 95, Ch. 379, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 522, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 24, Ch. 416, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 87, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 49, Ch. 472, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 169, L. 2013.