Information to help issuers with the discontinuation and renewal process for the 2022 plan year:
Small-group issuers using the Washington state templates or writing their own templates
Although small-group issuers may write their own templates, we strongly recommend that they use the Washington templates. By using the Washington templates, issuers can ensure that their notices comply with all the requirements and will be approved. Please see our templates on the small group templates page. Using the Washington templates also reduces the time it takes us to review and approve the notices. See our small-group notice checklist below for a list of elements issuers must include in the notices.
Cover letters and additional items
If you are attaching a cover letter to the template discontinuation or renewal letter for the individual market, please do not tell an Exchange enrollee that they will be auto-enrolled unless you are certain that is the case.
If you include a cover letter with your template letter, please use the following language in your cover letters to Exchange enrollees:
"You may or may not be auto-enrolled in coverage next year. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Healthplanfinder) will be contacting you if you need to take any action to renew your coverage."
Nothing in the cover letter or any additional items may conflict with the information in the renewal/discontinuation notices.
Issuers must e-mail a copy of the letter to the OIC's senior health policy analyst for review, and must give the OIC a minimum of three business days to complete the review.
If you refer to the open enrollment dates in your cover letter please use the following language, “Between November 1, 2021 and December 15, 2021, you can choose a new plan that starts on January 1, 2022 for coverage during 2022. You can also change plans from December 16, 2021 through January 15, 2022, but your new plan coverage would not start until February 1, 2022.”
Issuers must include notice of language accommodations as required by 45 CFR 156.250 (www.ecfr.gov). The OIC will allow the Notice and Taglines to be “posted” with forms either by being embedded in the forms, or as an insert enclosed with the forms.
Language taglines per CCIIO Technical Guidance (www.cms.gov) – March 30, 2016, Guidance and population data for Exchanges, qualified health plan issuers, and web-brokers to ensure meaningful access by limited-English proficient speakers under 45 CFR §155.205(c) and §156.250.
Appendix A (www.cms.wa.gov) – Top 15 non-English languages by state
Adding issuer identification to the notices
At the bottom of each template is a space for issuers to add their company's identification. A logo and identification information can be added to the top of each template (or the templates can be printed on the company's letterhead, if no changes are made to the wording in the template).
Sending notices by email
Issuers can email the notices to consumers who have agreed to receive electronic notification for important issues. If an issuer emails a notice to a consumer and the email is returned undeliverable, the issuer must send a paper notice to that consumer.
Listing the names of all enrollees on notices for individual plans
We encourage issuers to list the names of all enrollees in the household who are on the plan. This can help to minimize confusion in households where some people have different coverage, such as coverage through an Exchange plan and coverage through Apple Health.
Small-group plans requirement to notify each employee
When issuers send discontinuation notices for small-group plans, they need to send the notices to each employee on the plan, not just to the employer. This requirement can be found at WAC 284-43-0290(3) (leg.wa.gov).
The requirements in WAC 284-43-0290(3) (leg.wa.gov) also apply where a product is being renewed but a plan or plans within the renewing product are being discontinued. See the "Sending a renewal notice versus a discontinuation notice" section below for additional information.
Requirement to provide written notice of open enrollment
Under WAC 284-43-1080(4) (leg.wa.gov), issuers must provide written notice of open enrollment to consumers each September. Issuers can meet this requirement by adding the notice to their websites.
Filing notices with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC)
Issuers only need to file one template for each type of notice. For example, if an issuer's portfolio has:
- One Exchange-only individual product with seven plans, but the issuer isn’t renewing any of them.
- One individual product offered both on and off the Exchange with three plans. The issuer is renewing one of the plans and discontinuing the other two.
- Three small-group products offered only through Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). One of the small-group products has one plan, which is renewing. One of the small-group products has three plans, two of which are renewing and one isn’t. One of the small-group products has three plans, and the issuer is discontinuing all three.
Using the example above, this issuer will make four filings:
One discontinuation notice for individual products sold on the Exchange
One renewal notice for individual products sold both on and off of the Exchange
One renewal notice for small-group products
One discontinuation notice for small-group products
Note: Discontinuation happens at the product level, so although the issuer is discontinuing the enrollees’ plans, the issuer will map them to a different plan in the same product. Under the federal Uniform Product Modification rules, this is a renewal.
Reporting notice errors
Use our online form to report errors concerning discontinuation or renewal notices.
Changes to include in the benefits and cost-sharing tables
Issuers should include any material changes between the current plan benefits and cost-sharing levels versus the upcoming new plan benefits and cost-sharing levels. “Cost-sharing” includes – but isn’t limited to – changes in metal tier, out-of-pocket maximum and deductible.
Student health plans
For student health plans, issuers can send the notice to the school instead of having to send a notice to every student who’s enrolled in the plan.
Stand-alone pediatric dental plans
The OIC encourages, but does not require, issuers of stand-alone pediatric dental plans to use the OIC’s templates to notify consumers about renewals and discontinuations.
Notices for large-group plans
Large-group plans don't require renewal notifications.
Sending a renewal notice vs. a discontinuation notice
The correct notice for a particular enrollee is based upon whether the enrollee’s product (not plan) is being renewed for plan year 2022. Under federal law, renewal and discontinuation happen at the product (not plan) level. Therefore, issuers must send a renewal notice if one of these criteria are met:
The enrollee’s plan is being renewed for plan year 2022.
The enrollee’s plan is no longer being offered for 2022, but the enrollee’s product is being renewed, with the enrollee being mapped to a different plan within that renewal product.
Issuers must send a discontinuation notice if the enrollee’s 2021 product (not plan) is no longer being offered for 2022. This is true whether or not the enrollee is being mapped to a new product, and no matter how similar the new product is to the old one.
Notices for American Indian/Alaskan Native and cost-sharing reduction plans – filing with the OIC through Systems for Electronic Rate and Form Filing (SERFF)
There are no differences between the standard plans and these reduced-cost plans, other than cost sharing. As a result, issuers should send the same notices to people who are on these plans as they send to people who are on standard health plans, so issuers don’t have to file these notices separately with the OIC through SERFF.
The federal government’s waiver of the 90-day requirement for discontinuation notices
Washington state requires issuers to provide discontinuation notices 90 days before discontinuation.
Process for Qualified Health Plans (QHP) through the Exchange
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange provides additional information to issuers about mapping consumers for plan and product discontinuations. If you have questions related to QHP offered on Healthplanfinder or questions about the process, please contact the Washington Health Benefit Exchange directly.