In late 2020, the Price Transparency final rule and the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) were enacted. By law, many of these provisions require that Anthem Blue Cross (Anthem) must disclose pricing and other information previously not available publicly.  Below is a summary of provisions that may impact you.  Some sections of these laws are pending further rulemaking/regulations.

Transparency in pricing regulation – Overview of changes and action Anthem is taking


Transparency requirements will be phased in over three years beginning July 2022 as follows:

Plan years that begin

Regulation requirements

Anthem’s action

On or after

January 1, 2022

Anthem must make three separate machine-readable files in a standardized format available to the public, including stakeholders such as consumers, researchers, employers, and third-party developers. The three files must be placed on a publicly available website and updated monthly.

 

1.       Negotiated in-network provider rates for all covered items and services

2.       Historical payments to, and billed charges from, out-of-network providers

3.       In-network negotiated rates and historical net prices for all covered prescription drugs administered by Anthem at the pharmacy location level.

The rate information is required to include Provider NPI and TIN information.

We are developing the files that will be available through our website for the data we administer and maintain.

Machine Readable Files will be published beginning July 1, 2022, except those for prescription drugs, which are pending further rulemaking.

 

 

January 1, 2023

Anthem must make personalized out-of-pocket cost information and the underlying negotiated rates for 500 covered healthcare items and services – including prescription drugs – available to participants, beneficiaries, and enrollees.

 

As required, we are on track with making information available through an internet-based, self-service tool and in paper form upon request.

January 1, 2024

Anthem must expand our transparency tools to encompass all covered items and services.

 

We continue to review and assess guidance regarding the regulation and are working to comply with requirements.


Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA)

As a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act or CAA, there are significant new health plan requirements, including protections for patients from surprise medical bills and other significant health coverage related provisions.  Most of these provisions are effective January 1, 2022.

Regulatory detail needed for full implementation is still pending in most cases. However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated good faith compliance should be pursued pending regulatory implementation detail.

Some key provisions of the CAA, effective January 1, 2022, are listed below that may impact your business interactions with us.


Surprise billing and independent dispute resolution process

The CAA requires that patients be held responsible for only in-network cost sharing amounts, including deductibles, in emergency situations and certain non-emergency situations where patients do not have the ability to choose an in-network provider (including air ambulance providers). The provision also prohibits out-of-network providers from balance billing except in limited circumstances where the out-of-network provider has obtained a notice and consent from the patient. An independent dispute resolution (IDR) process is available when an out-of-network provider and Anthem cannot reach an agreement on payment. 

In July 2021, an interim final rule (IFR) provided some of the regulatory detail around cost sharing calculations for surprise billing.   Further regulatory guidance is expected in the coming months – including guidance regarding the IDR process.

Anthem is moving forward with changes in calculations and payment based on the guidance received to date.  We will continue to monitor for additional regulatory guidance.

 

Increasing transparency by removing contract provisions known as gag clauses that may prohibit health plans from disclosing price and quality information  


The CAA requires Anthem to provide access to provider-specific price or quality of care information, through a consumer engagement tool or any other means, to referring providers, enrollees, or individuals eligible to become Anthem enrollees.

Due to the gag clause provision, we will no longer be able to allow suppression of price and quality data upon provider request.


Member identification card changes

Member ID cards issued for plan years on and after January 1, 2022, must include information to ensure that members know how to access current information regarding their deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.  Additionally, member ID cards must include a telephone number and internet address for members to use for assistance should they have questions such as whether a provider participates in our networks. We encourage in-network providers to continue to use Availity for member cost share information.

Continuity of care
 

As a part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, there is a continuity of care protection requirement that allows patients with serious or complex care needs (continuing care patients) to have up to a 90-day period of continued coverage at the same terms and conditions when a provider changes network status or an insured group contract terminates.  This provides continued coverage at in-network cost sharing rates to allow for a transition of care to an in-network provider or until the patient is no longer a continuing care patient under the CAA. 

Anthem must notify individuals who qualify as continuing care patients at the time of the provider’s termination as an in-network provider of the option to continue care for the transitional period of up to 90 days.  Providers subject to this provision must accept the continued in-network payment as payment in full and otherwise comply with all policies, procedures and quality standards Anthem imposes.  If an insured group terminates with Anthem, continuing care patients also have up to a 90-day period of continued care at in-network cost sharing rates. Applicable contract rates will apply for providers.

Protecting patients and improving the accuracy of provider directory information

Anthem must maintain a provider directory available to consumers online that includes a list of the in-network providers and facilities. Anthem must verify provider/facility name, address, specialty, phone number and digital contact information at least every 90 days.

1341-1021-PN-CA



Featured In:
October 2021 Anthem Blue Cross Provider News - California