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62L.045 ASSOCIATIONS.

Subdivision 1.Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following terms have the meanings given:

(a) "Association" means:

(1) an association as defined in section 60A.02;

(2) a group or organization of political subdivisions;

(3) a service cooperative created under section 123A.21; or

(4) a joint self-insurance pool authorized under section 471.617, subdivision 2.

(b) "Qualified association" means an association, as defined in this subdivision, that:

(1) is registered with the commissioner of commerce;

(2) provides health plan coverage through a health carrier that participates in the small employer market in this state, other than through associations, to the extent that the association purchases health plan coverage rather than self-insures;

(3) has and adheres to membership and participation criteria and health coverage eligibility criteria that are not designed to disproportionately include or attract small employers that are likely to have low costs of health coverage or to disproportionately exclude or repel small employers that are likely to have high costs of health coverage; and

(4) permits any small employer that meets its membership, participation, and eligibility criteria to become a member and to obtain health coverage through the association.

(c) "Health coverage" means a health benefit plan as defined in section 62L.02, subdivision 15; or similar self-insured coverage offered, sold, issued, or renewed by an association as defined in paragraph (a) to a small employer.

Subd. 2.Qualified associations.

(a) A qualified association, as defined in this section, and health coverage offered by it, to it, or through it, to a small employer in this state must comply with the requirements of this chapter regarding guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewal, preexisting condition limitations, credit against preexisting condition limitations for continuous coverage, treatment of MCHA enrollees, and the definition of dependent, and with section 62A.65, subdivision 5, paragraph (b). They must also comply with all other requirements of this chapter not specifically exempted in paragraph (b) or (c).

(b) A qualified association and a health carrier offering, selling, issuing, or renewing health coverage to, or to cover, a small employer in this state through the qualified association, may, but are not, in connection with that health coverage, required to:

(1) offer the two small employer plans described in section 62L.05; and

(2) offer to small employers that are not members of the association, health coverage offered to, by, or through the qualified association.

(c) A qualified association, and a health carrier offering, selling, issuing, and renewing health coverage to, or to cover, a small employer in this state must comply with section 62L.08, except that:

(1) a separate index rate may be applied by a health carrier to each qualified association, provided that:

(i) the premium rate applied to participating small employer members of the qualified association is no more than 25 percent above and no more than 25 percent below the index rate applied to the qualified association, irrespective of when members applied for health coverage; and

(ii) the index rate applied by a health carrier to a qualified association is no more than 20 percent above and no more than 20 percent below the index rate applied by the health carrier to any other qualified association or to any small employer. In comparing index rates for purposes of this clause, the 20 percent shall be calculated as a percent of the larger index rate; and

(2) a qualified association described in subdivision 1, paragraph (a), clauses (2) to (4), providing health coverage through a health carrier, or on a self-insured basis in compliance with section 471.617 and the rules adopted under that section, may cover small employers and other employers within the same pool and may charge premiums to small employer members on the same basis as it charges premiums to members that are not small employers, if the premium rates charged to small employers do not have greater variation than permitted under section 62L.08. A qualified association operating under this clause shall annually prove to the commissioner of commerce that it complies with this clause through a sampling procedure acceptable to the commissioner. If the qualified association fails to prove compliance to the satisfaction of the commissioner, the association shall agree to a written plan of correction acceptable to the commissioner. The qualified association is considered to be in compliance under this clause if there is a premium rate that would, if used as an index rate, result in all premium rates in the sample being in compliance with section 62L.08. This clause does not exempt a qualified association or a health carrier providing coverage through the qualified association from the loss ratio requirement of section 62L.08, subdivision 11.

Subd. 3.Other associations.

Associations as defined in this section that are not qualified associations; health coverage offered, sold, issued, or renewed by or through them; and the health carriers doing so, must fully comply with this chapter with respect to small employers that are members of the association.

Subd. 4.Principles; association coverage.

(a) This subdivision applies to associations as defined in this section, whether qualified associations or not, and is intended to clarify subdivisions 1 to 3.

(b) This section applies only to associations that provide health coverage to small employers.

(c) A health carrier is not required under this chapter to comply with guaranteed issue and guaranteed renewal with respect to its relationship with the association itself. An arrangement between the health carrier and the association, once entered into, must comply with guaranteed issue and guaranteed renewal with respect to members of the association that are small employers and persons covered through them.

(d) When an arrangement between a health carrier and an association has validly terminated, the health carrier has no continuing obligation to small employers and persons covered through them, except as otherwise provided in:

(1) section 62A.65, subdivision 5, paragraph (b);

(2) any other continuation or conversion rights applicable under state or federal law; and

(3) section 60A.082, relating to group replacement coverage, and rules adopted under that section.

(e) When an association's arrangement with a health carrier has terminated and the association has entered into a new arrangement with that health carrier or a different health carrier, the new arrangement is subject to section 60A.082 and rules adopted under it, with respect to members of the association that are small employers and persons covered through them.

(f) An association that offers its members more than one plan of health coverage may have uniform rules restricting movement between the plans of health coverage, if the rules do not discriminate against small employers.

(g) This chapter does not require or prohibit separation of an association's members into one group consisting only of small employers and another group or other groups consisting of all other members. The association must comply with this section with respect to the small employer group.

(h) For purposes of this section, "member" of an association includes an employer participant in the association.

(i) For purposes of this section, health coverage issued to, or to cover, a small employer includes a certificate of coverage issued directly to the employer's employees and dependents, rather than to the small employer.

Subd. 5.Registration.

The commissioner may require all associations that are subject to this section to register with the commissioner prior to an initial purchase of health coverage under this section.