WSR 01-03-032




[ Insurance Commissioner Matter No. R 2000-04 -- Filed January 9, 2001, 11:16 a.m. ]

Date of Adoption: January 9, 2001.

Purpose: Section 26, chapter 79, Laws of 2000, requires a minimum pharmacy benefit, these rules will increase the understanding of the consumer regarding that pharmacy benefit by establishing a common terminology and method of explaining the benefit.

Citation of Existing Rules Affected by this Order: Amending WAC 284-43-130.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 48.02.060, 48.20.450, 48.20.460, 48.30.010, 48.44.050, 48.46.200, section 26, chapter 79, Laws of 2000.

Other Authority: RCW 48.30.040, 48.44.110, 48.46.400.

Adopted under notice filed as WSR 00-16-125 on August 2, 2000.

Changes Other than Editing from Proposed to Adopted Version: The rules were modified to coordinate compliance with the patient's bill of rights rules. Questions and answers only need to be included in the contract. A provision was added to allow the commissioner to extend or waive the time of compliance for good cause.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Comply with Federal Statute: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Federal Rules or Standards: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Recently Enacted State Statutes: New 1, Amended 1, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted at Request of a Nongovernmental Entity: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted on the Agency's Own Initiative: New 1, Amended 1, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted in Order to Clarify, Streamline, or Reform Agency Procedures: New 1, Amended 1, Repealed 0.

Number of Sections Adopted Using Negotiated Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; Pilot Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0; or Other Alternative Rule Making: New 0, Amended 0, Repealed 0. Effective Date of Rule: Thirty-one days after filing.

January 9, 2001

Deborah Senn

Insurance Commissioner


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Matter No. R 98-7, filed 9/8/99, effective 10/9/99)

WAC 284-43-130   Definitions.   Except as defined in other subchapters and unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions shall apply throughout this chapter.

(1) "Covered health condition" means any disease, illness, injury or condition of health risk covered according to the terms of any health plan.

(2) "Covered person" means an individual covered by a health plan including an enrollee, subscriber, policyholder, or beneficiary of a group plan.

(3) "Emergency medical condition" means the emergent and acute onset of a symptom or symptoms, including severe pain, that would lead a prudent layperson acting reasonably to believe that a health condition exists that requires immediate medical attention, if failure to provide medical attention would result in serious impairment to bodily functions or serious dysfunction of a bodily organ or part, or would place the person's health in serious jeopardy.

(4) "Emergency services" means otherwise covered health care services medically necessary to evaluate and treat an emergency medical condition, provided in a hospital emergency department.

(5) "Enrollee point-of-service cost-sharing" or "cost-sharing" means amounts paid to health carriers directly providing services, health care providers, or health care facilities by enrollees and may include copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles.

(6) "Facility" means an institution providing health care services, including but not limited to hospitals and other licensed inpatient centers, ambulatory surgical or treatment centers, skilled nursing centers, residential treatment centers, diagnostic, laboratory, and imaging centers, and rehabilitation and other therapeutic settings.

(7) "Formulary" means a listing of drugs used within a health plan.

(8) "Grievance" means a written complaint submitted by or on behalf of a covered person regarding:

(a) Denial of health care services or payment for health care services; or

(b) Issues other than health care services or payment for health care services including dissatisfaction with health care services, delays in obtaining health care services, conflicts with carrier staff or providers, and dissatisfaction with carrier practices or actions unrelated to health care services.

(((8))) (9) "Health care provider" or "provider" means:

(a) A person regulated under Title 18 RCW or chapter 70.127 RCW, to practice health or health-related services or otherwise practicing health care services in this state consistent with state law; or

(b) An employee or agent of a person described in (a) of this subsection, acting in the course and scope of his or her employment.

(((9))) (10) "Health care service" or "health service" means that service offered or provided by health care facilities and health care providers relating to the prevention, cure, or treatment of illness, injury, or disease.

(((10))) (11) "Health carrier" or "carrier" means a disability insurance company regulated under chapter 48.20 or 48.21 RCW, a health care service contractor as defined in RCW 48.44.010, and a health maintenance organization as defined in RCW 48.46.020.

(((11))) (12) "Health plan" or "plan" means any individual or group policy, contract, or agreement offered by a health carrier to provide, arrange, reimburse, or pay for health care service except the following:

(a) Long-term care insurance governed by chapter 48.84 RCW;

(b) Medicare supplemental health insurance governed by chapter 48.66 RCW;

(c) Limited health care service offered by limited health care service contractors in accordance with RCW 48.44.035;

(d) Disability income;

(e) Coverage incidental to a property/casualty liability insurance policy such as automobile personal injury protection coverage and homeowner guest medical;

(f) Workers' compensation coverage;

(g) Accident only coverage;

(h) Specified disease and hospital confinement indemnity when marketed solely as a supplement to a health plan;

(i) Employer-sponsored self-funded health plans;

(j) Dental only and vision only coverage; and

(k) Plans deemed by the insurance commissioner to have a short-term limited purpose or duration, or to be a student-only plan that is guaranteed renewable while the covered person is enrolled as a regular full-time undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited higher education institution, after a written request for such classification by the carrier and subsequent written approval by the insurance commissioner.

(((12))) (13) "Managed care plan" means a health plan that coordinates the provision of covered health care services to a covered person through the use of a primary care provider and a network.

(((13))) (14) "Medically necessary" or "medical necessity" in regard to mental health services and pharmacy services is a carrier determination as to whether a health service is a covered benefit if the service is consistent with generally recognized standards within a relevant health profession.

(((14))) (15) "Mental health provider" means a health care provider or a health care facility authorized by state law to provide mental health services.

(((15))) (16) "Mental health services" means in-patient or out-patient treatment, partial hospitalization or out-patient treatment to manage or ameliorate the effects of a mental disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) IV published by the American Psychiatric Association, excluding diagnoses and treatments for substance abuse, 291.0 through 292.9 and 303.0 through 305.9.

(((16))) (17) "Network" means the group of participating providers and facilities providing health care services to a particular health plan. A health plan network for carriers offering more than one health plan may be smaller in number than the total number of participating providers and facilities for all plans offered by the carrier.

(((17))) (18) "Out-patient therapeutic visit" or "out-patient visit" means a clinical treatment session with a mental health provider of a duration consistent with relevant professional standards used by the carrier to determine medical necessity for the particular service being rendered, as defined in Physicians Current Procedural Terminology, published by the American Medical Association.

(((18))) (19) "Participating provider" and "participating facility" means a facility or provider who, under a contract with the health carrier or with the carrier's contractor or subcontractor, has agreed to provide health care services to covered persons with an expectation of receiving payment, other than coinsurance, copayments, or deductibles, from the health carrier rather than from the covered person.

(((19))) (20) "Person" means an individual, a corporation, a partnership, an association, a joint venture, a joint stock company, a trust, an unincorporated organization, any similar entity, or any combination of the foregoing.

(((20))) (21) "Pharmacy services" means the practice of pharmacy as defined in chapter 18.64 RCW and includes any drugs or devices as defined in chapter 18.64 RCW.

(22) "Primary care provider" means a participating provider who supervises, coordinates, or provides initial care or continuing care to a covered person, and who may be required by the health carrier to initiate a referral for specialty care and maintain supervision of health care services rendered to the covered person.

(((21))) (23) "Preexisting condition" means any medical condition, illness, or injury that existed any time prior to the effective date of coverage.

(((22))) (24) "Premium" means all sums charged, received, or deposited by a health carrier as consideration for a health plan or the continuance of a health plan. Any assessment or any "membership," "policy," "contract," "service," or similar fee or charge made by a health carrier in consideration for a health plan is deemed part of the premium. "Premium" shall not include amounts paid as enrollee point-of-service cost-sharing.

(((23))) (25) "Small group" means a health plan issued to a small employer as defined under RCW 48.43.005(24) comprising from one to fifty eligible employees.

(26) "Substitute drug" means a therapeutically equivalent substance as defined in chapter 69.41 RCW.

(27) "Supplementary pharmacy services" or "other pharmacy services" means pharmacy services involving the provision of drug therapy management and other services not required under state and federal law but that may be rendered in connection with dispensing, or that may be used in disease prevention or disease management.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.30.010, 48.44.050, 48.46.200, 48.30.040, 48.44.110 and 48.46.400. 99-19-032 (Matter No. R 98-7), 284-43-130, filed 9/8/99, effective 10/9/99. Statutory Authority: RCW 48.02.060, 48.20.450, 48.20.460, 48.30.010, 48.44.020, 48.44.050, 48.44.080, 48.46.030, 48.46.060(2), 48.46.200 and 48.46.243. 98-04-005 (Matter No. R 97-3), 284-43-130, filed 1/22/98, effective 2/22/98.]

WAC 284-43-815   Coverage for pharmacy services.   (1) The commissioner may disapprove any contract issued or renewed after July 1, 2001, that includes coverage for pharmacy services if the following statement is not provided to covered persons at the time of enrollment:


State and federal laws establish standards to assure safe and effective pharmacy services, and to guarantee your right to know what drugs are covered under this plan and what coverage limitations are in your contract. If you would like more information about the drug coverage policies under this plan, or if you have a question or a concern about your pharmacy benefit, please contact us (the health carrier) at 1-800-???-????.

If you would like to know more about your rights under the law, or if you think anything you received from this plan may not conform to the terms of your contract, you may contact the Washington State Office of Insurance Commissioner at 1-800-562-6900. If you have a concern about the pharmacists or pharmacies serving you, please call the State Department of Health at 360-236-4825.

(2) The commissioner may disapprove any contract issued or renewed after July 1, 2001, that includes coverage for pharmacy services if the carrier does not: Pose and respond in writing to the following questions in language that complies with WAC 284-50-010 through 284-50-230; offers to provide and provide upon request this information prior to enrollment; and ensures that this information is provided to covered persons at the time of enrollment:

(a) "Does this plan limit or exclude certain drugs my health care provider may prescribe, or encourage substitutions for some drugs?" The response must describe the process for developing coverage standards and formularies, including the principal criteria by which drugs are selected for inclusion, exclusion, restriction or limitation. If a determination of medical necessity is used, that term must be briefly defined here. Coverage standards involving the use of substitute drugs, whether generic or therapeutic, are either an exception, reduction or limitation and must be discussed here. Major categories of drugs excluded, limited or reduced from coverage may be included in this response.

(b) "When can my plan change the approved drug list (formulary)? If a change occurs, will I have to pay more to use a drug I had been using?" The response must identify the process of changing formularies and coverage standards, including changes in the use of substitute drugs. If the plan gives prior notice of these changes or has provisions for "grandfathering" certain ongoing prescriptions, these practices may be discussed here.

(c) "What should I do if I want a change from limitations, exclusions, substitutions or cost increases for drugs specified in this plan?" The response must include a phone number to call with a request for a change in coverage decisions, and must discuss the process and criteria by which such a change may be granted. The response may refer to the appeals or grievance process without describing that process in detail here. The response must state the time within which requests for changes will be acted upon in normal circumstances and in circumstances where an emergency medical condition exists.

(d) "How much do I have to pay to get a prescription filled?" The response must list enrollee point-of-service cost-sharing dollar amounts or percentages for all coverage categories including at least name brand drugs, substitute drugs and any drugs which may be available, but which are not on the health plan's formulary.

(e) "Do I have to use certain pharmacies to pay the least out of my own pocket under this health plan?" If the answer to this question is "yes," the plan must state the approximate number of pharmacies in Washington at which the most favorable enrollee cost sharing will be provided, and some means by which the enrollee can learn which ones they are.

(f) "How many days' supply of most medications can I get without paying another co-pay or other repeating charge?" The response should discuss normal and exceptional supply limits, mail order arrangements and travel supply and refill requirements or guidelines.

(g) "What other pharmacy services does my health plan cover?" The response should include any "intellectual services," or disease management services reimbursed by the plan in addition to those required under state and federal law in connection with dispensing, such as disease management services for migraine, diabetes, smoking cessation, asthma, or lipid management.

(3) The commissioner may disapprove any contract issued or renewed after July 1, 2001, that includes coverage for pharmacy services if the general categories of drugs excluded from coverage are not provided to covered persons at the time of enrollment. Such categories may include items such as appetite suppressants, dental prescriptions, cosmetic agents or most over-the-counter medications. This subsection intends only to promote clearer enrollee understanding of the exclusions, reductions and limitations contained in a health plan, and not to suggest that any particular categories of coverage for drugs or pharmacy services should be excluded, reduced, or limited by a health plan.

(4) In complying with these requirements, a carrier may, where appropriate and consistent with the provisions of these rules, consolidate the information with other material required by disclosure provisions set forth in RCW 48.43.510 and WAC 284-43-820.

(5) This information may be provided in a narrative form to the extent that the content of both questions and answers is included.

(6) The commissioner may grant an extension or waive these requirements for good cause and if there is assurance that the information, required herein, is distributed in a timely manner consistent with the purpose and intent of these rules.


Washington State Code Reviser's Office