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Phia Group Media

Too Early to Worry About 2020? Never!

By: Kelly Dempsey, Esq. & Corrie Cripps

ACA changes are few and far between these days – a lot of talk, but not a lot of action…yet. There are two things health plans should pay attention to and one is likely a welcome change. The less exciting of the two is a quick update to the preventive care rules, while the more exciting proposal is relating to the exclusion of certain prescription drug charges from the out-of-pocket maximum. While this proposal doesn’t solve all the drug copay card problems at once, it’s a step to help plans control prescription drug spend.   

New Preventive Care Guideline
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a brand new “B” recommendation on February 12, 2019. The new recommendation requires plans to provide interventions to prevent perinatal depression. The USPSTF found that counseling can help prevent perinatal depression in persons at increased risk, and recommends that clinicians provide or refer pregnant and postpartum persons who are at increased risk to counseling interventions.

As a reminder, this new recommendation impacts non-grandfathered plans. Non-grandfathered plans are required to provide coverage for certain preventive care services in-network at 100% with no cost-sharing. Included in the list of services are USPSTF guidelines with an A or B rating. Employers that offer robust medical plans, as well as limited medical benefit plans, such as preventive only plans, will need to make the necessary modifications. Timing of applicability of new recommendations is a little confusing, as such, Phia’s best practices are to implement new guidelines into plans with the first plan year beginning on or after the recommendation is issued.

Drug Copay Cards and Out-of-Pocket Maximums
Annually the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues proposed regulations with benefit and payment parameters. Generally this just means employers and plans are put on notice regarding inflation updates to certain figures such as the ACA out-of-pocket maximum limits. This year HHS is throwing a likely welcome curveball - HHS has proposed to allow self-insured group health plans to except certain cost-sharing from the maximum out-of-pocket limit if certain things occur related to prescription drugs. The rule would allow plans to exclude from the out-of-pocket totals the amount the plan must pay when a plan participant selects a brand drug when a medically appropriate generic drug is available and amounts associated with drug manufacturer coupons for specific prescription brand drugs that have a generic equivalent.