Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 38.2. Insurance
Chapter 34. Provisions Relating to Accident and Sickness Insurance
9/19/2020

§ 38.2-3407.11:1. Access to specialists; standing referrals.

A. Each (i) insurer proposing to issue individual or group accident and sickness insurance policies providing hospital, medical and surgical or major medical coverage on an expense-incurred basis, (ii) corporation providing individual or group accident and sickness subscription contracts, and (iii) health maintenance organization providing a health care plan for health care services shall permit any individual covered thereunder a standing referral, as provided in subsection B, to the health care services of a participating specialist (i) authorized to provide services under such policy, contract or plan and (ii) selected by such individual.

B. If the care of a covered individual who has an ongoing special condition would, as determined by the primary care physician, most appropriately be coordinated by a specialist for such condition, each insurer, corporation, or health maintenance organization, in connection with the provision of health insurance coverage, shall have a procedure by which such individual shall, after consultation with the primary care physician, receive a referral to a specialist for such condition. Within the treatment period authorized by the referral, such specialist shall be permitted to treat the individual for the special condition without a further referral from the individual's primary care provider and may authorize such referrals, procedures, tests, and other medical services related to the special condition as the individual's primary care provider would otherwise be permitted to provide or authorize. For the purposes of this section, "special condition" means a condition or disease that is (i) life-threatening, degenerative, or disabling and (ii) requires specialized medical care over a prolonged period of time.

C. An insurer, corporation, or health maintenance organization, in connection with the provision of health insurance coverage, shall have a procedure by which an individual who is a participant, beneficiary, or enrollee and who has an ongoing special condition that requires ongoing care from a specialist may receive a standing referral to a participating specialist for the treatment of the special condition. If the plan or issuer, or if the primary care provider in consultation with the plan or issuer and the participating specialist, if any, determines that such a standing referral is appropriate, the plan or issuer shall make such a referral to a specialist.

D. Nothing contained herein shall prohibit an insurer, corporation, or health maintenance organization from requiring a participating specialist to provide written notification to the covered individual's primary care physician of any visit to such specialist. Such notification may include a description of the health care services rendered at the time of the visit.

E. Each insurer, corporation or health maintenance organization subject to the provisions of this section shall inform subscribers of the provisions of this section. Such notice shall be provided in writing, and included in the policy or evidence of coverage.

F. The requirements of this section shall apply to all insurance policies, contracts, and plans delivered, issued for delivery, reissued, renewed, or extended or at any time when any term of any such policy, contract, or plan is changed or any premium adjustment is made. The provisions of this section shall not apply to short-term travel or accident-only policies, to short-term nonrenewable policies of not more than six months' duration, or policies or contracts issued to persons eligible under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, known as Medicare, or any other similar coverage under state or federal governmental plans.

1999, cc. 643, 649; 2000, c. 922.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.