SENATE
HOUSE
JOINT
BILL STATUS
STATE LAW
REPORTS
EDUCATIONAL
CONTACT
home
home

WEST VIRGINIA CODE

‹ Back  |  print page Print

CHAPTER 33.  INSURANCE.

ARTICLE 55. HEALTH BENEFIT PLAN NETWORK ACCESS AND ADEQUACY ACT.

§33-55-3. Network adequacy.

(a)(1) A health carrier providing a network plan shall maintain a network that is sufficient in numbers and appropriate types of providers, including those that serve predominantly low-income, medically underserved individuals, to assure that all covered services to covered persons, including children and adults, will be accessible without unreasonable travel or delay.

(2) Covered persons have access to emergency services 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

(b) The commissioner shall determine sufficiency in accordance with the requirements of this section, and may establish sufficiency by reference to any reasonable criteria, which may include, but are not limited to:

(1) Provider-covered person ratios by specialty;

(2) Primary care professional-covered person ratios;

(3) Geographic accessibility of providers;

(4) Geographic variation and population dispersion;

(5) Waiting times for an appointment with participating providers;

(6) Hours of operation;

(7) The ability of the network to meet the needs of covered persons, which may include low-income persons, children and adults with serious, chronic, or complex health conditions or physical or mental disabilities, or persons with limited English proficiency;

(8) Other health care service delivery system options, such as telemedicine or telehealth, mobile clinics, centers of excellence, and other ways of delivering care; and

(9) The volume of technological and specialty care services available to serve the needs of covered persons requiring technologically advanced or specialty care services.

(c)(1) A health carrier shall have a process to assure that a covered person obtains a covered benefit at an in-network level of benefits, including an in-network level of cost-sharing, from a nonparticipating provider, or make other arrangements acceptable to the commissioner when:

(A) The health carrier has a sufficient network, but does not have a type of participating provider available to provide the covered benefit to the covered person, or it does not have a participating provider available to provide the covered benefit to the covered person without unreasonable travel or delay; or

(B) The health carrier has an insufficient number or type of participating providers available to provide the covered benefit to the covered person without unreasonable travel or delay.

(2) The health carrier shall specify and inform covered persons of the process a covered person may use to request access to obtain a covered benefit from a non-participating provider as provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection when:

(A) The covered person is diagnosed with a condition or disease that requires specialized health care services or medical services; and

(B) The health carrier:

(i) Does not have a participating provider of the required specialty with the professional training and expertise to treat or provide health care services for the condition or disease; or

(ii) Cannot provide reasonable access to a participating provider with the required specialty with the professional training and expertise to treat or provide health care services for the condition or disease without unreasonable travel or delay.

(3) The health carrier shall treat the health care services the covered person receives from a nonparticipating provider pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection as if the services were provided by a participating provider, including counting the covered person’s cost-sharing for such services toward the maximum out-of-pocket limit applicable to services obtained from participating providers under the health benefit plan.

(4) The process described under subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection shall ensure that requests to obtain a covered benefit from a nonparticipating provider are addressed in a timely fashion appropriate to the covered person’s condition.

(5) The health carrier shall have a system in place that documents all requests to obtain a covered benefit from a nonparticipating provider under this subsection and shall provide this information to the commissioner upon request.

(6) The process established in this subsection is not intended to be used by health carriers as a substitute for establishing and maintaining a sufficient provider network in accordance with the provisions of this article nor is it intended to be used by covered persons to circumvent the use of covered benefits available through a health carrier’s network delivery system options.

(7) Nothing in this section prevents a covered person from exercising the rights and remedies available under applicable state or federal law relating to internal and external claims grievance and appeals processes.

(d)(1) A health carrier shall establish and maintain adequate arrangements to ensure covered persons have reasonable access to participating providers located near their home or business address. In determining whether the health carrier has complied with this provision, the commissioner shall give due consideration to the relative availability of health care providers with the requisite expertise and training in the service area under consideration.

(2) A health carrier shall monitor, on an ongoing basis, the ability, clinical capacity, and legal authority of its participating providers to furnish all contracted covered benefits to covered persons.

(e)(1) Beginning January 1, 2021, a health carrier shall file with the commissioner for review prior to or at the time it files a newly offered network, in a manner and form defined by rule of the commissioner, an access plan meeting the requirements of this article.

(2)(A) The health carrier may request the commissioner to deem sections of the access plan as proprietary information that may not be made public. The health carrier shall make the access plans, absent proprietary information, available online, at its business premises, and to any person upon request.

(B) For the purposes of this subsection, information is proprietary if revealing the information would cause the health carrier’s competitors to obtain valuable business information.

(3) The health carrier shall prepare an access plan prior to offering a new network plan and shall notify the commissioner of any material change to any existing network plan within 15 business days after the change occurs. The carrier shall include in the notice to the commissioner a reasonable timeframe within which it will submit to the commissioner for approval or file with the commissioner, as appropriate, an update to an existing access plan.

(f) The access plan shall describe or contain at least the following:

(1) The health carrier’s network, including how the use of telemedicine or telehealth or other technology may be used to meet network access standards, if applicable;

(2) The health carrier’s procedures for making and authorizing referrals within and outside its network, if applicable;

(3) The health carrier’s process for monitoring and assuring on an ongoing basis the sufficiency of the network to meet the health care needs of populations that enroll in network plans;

(4) The factors used by the health carrier to build its provider network, including a description of the network and the criteria used to select providers;

(5) The health carrier’s efforts to address the needs of covered persons, including, but not limited to, children and adults, including those with limited English proficiency or illiteracy, diverse cultural or ethnic backgrounds, physical or mental disabilities, and serious, chronic, or complex medical conditions. This includes the carrier’s efforts, when appropriate, to include various types of ECPs in its network;

(6) The health carrier’s methods for assessing the health care needs of covered persons and their satisfaction with services;

(7) The health carrier’s method of informing covered persons of the plan’s covered services and features, including, but not limited to:

(A) The plan’s grievance and appeals procedures;

(B) Its process for choosing and changing providers;

(C) Its process for updating its provider directories for each of its network plans;

(D) A statement of health care services offered, including those services offered through the preventive care benefit, if applicable; and

(E) Its procedures for covering and approving emergency, urgent, and specialty care, if applicable;

(8) The health carrier’s system for ensuring the coordination and continuity of care:

(A) For covered persons referred to specialty physicians; and

(B) For covered persons using ancillary services, including social services and other community resources, and for ensuring appropriate discharge planning;

(9) The health carrier’s process for enabling covered persons to change primary care professionals, if applicable;

(10) The health carrier’s proposed plan for providing continuity of care in the event of contract termination between the health carrier and any of its participating providers, or in the event of the health carrier’s insolvency or other inability to continue operations. The description shall explain how covered persons will be notified of the contract termination, or the health carrier’s insolvency or other cessation of operations, and transitioned to other providers in a timely manner;

(11) The health carrier’s process for monitoring access to physician specialist services in emergency room care, anesthesiology, radiology, hospitalist care, and pathology/laboratory services at their participating hospitals; and

(12) Any other information required by the commissioner to determine compliance with the provisions of this article.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2020 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.
This Web site is maintained by the West Virginia Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.  |  Terms of Use  |   Web Administrator   |   © 2021 West Virginia Legislature ****