Feds: Exchanges can set up life, disability alliances

An ancillary products partner must cover all of its costs. An ancillary products partner must cover all of its costs.

Managers of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance exchanges may be able to connect with partners that sell vision insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, long-term care insurance (LTCI) and other ancillary insurance products.

Officials at the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), the arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that oversees the exchange programs, give guidelines for ancillary products sales in a set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

PPACA requires HHS to work with state agencies to make the services of an exchange, or Web-based health insurance supermarket, available to residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Oct. 1.  

PPACA authorizes the exchanges to sell "qualified health plans" (QHPs) and stand-alone dental plans.

A PPACA exchange cannot sell any products other than QHPs and stand-alone dental plans, and it can sell QHP coverage and dental coverage only to "qualified individuals and qualified employers," CCIIO officials said in a FAQ answer.

But a state that's running an exchange can connect an exchange with "separate state programs that share resources and infrastructure with a state-based exchanged," and those separate "resource sharing" programs can sell ancillary products, officials said.

An exchange could provide basic information about ancillary products, and it could explain how consumers can go about signing up for the ancillary products through a "separate legally and publicly distinct program," officials said.

Before an exchange can connect users with an ancillary products program, the exchange must warn the consumer that consumers cannot use the new PPACA health insurance purchase tax credits to pay for the ancillary products.

"Purchasing information could include the ability for consumers to  click on a product link that would take them to a page containing product and pricing information, where  they could add the product to a shopping basket and purchase the product along with any QHP products," officials said.

An ancillary products  page "may reside on the exchange information technology infrastructure" if the ancillary products page and associated call centers are legally and publicly distinct from the PPACA exchange enrollment operation, and as long as consumers get warnings about the fact that they are going outside the exchange system, officials said.

An ancillary products program cannot use federal exchange funds to support its activities, and it must pay for any exchange resources it is using, officials said.

The non-exchange products call center would have to have a different telephone number from the exchange telephone number, and the two call centers would have to have different scripts, officials said.

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