3923.122 [Suspended eff. 1/1/2014 through 1/1/2018; See Note]Option for conversion from group policy to individual policy.

(A) Every policy of group sickness and accident insurance providing hospital, surgical, or medical expense coverage for other than specific diseases or accidents only, and delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed in this state on or after January 1, 1976, shall include a provision giving each insured the option to convert to the following:

(1) In the case of an individual who is not a federally eligible individual, any of the individual policies of hospital, surgical, or medical expense insurance then being issued by the insurer with benefit limits not to exceed those in effect under the group policy;

(2) In the case of a federally eligible individual, a basic or standard plan established in accordance with section 3924.10 of the Revised Code or plans substantially similar to the basic and standard plan in benefit design and scope of covered services. For purposes of division (A)(2) of this section, the superintendent of insurance shall determine whether a plan is substantially similar to the basic or standard plan in benefit design and scope of covered services.

(B) An option for conversion to an individual policy shall be available without evidence of insurability to every insured, including any person eligible under division (D) of this section, who terminates employment or membership in the group holding the policy after having been continuously insured thereunder for at least one year. Upon receipt of the insured's written application and upon payment of at least the first quarterly premium not later than thirty-one days after the termination of coverage under the group policy, the insurer shall issue a converted policy on a form then available for conversion. The premium shall be in accordance with the insurer's table of premium rates in effect on the later of the following dates:

(1) The effective date of the converted policy;

(2) The date of application therefor; and shall be applicable to the class of risk to which each person covered belongs and to the form and amount of the policy at the person's then attained age. However, premiums charged federally eligible individuals may not exceed the amounts specified below:

(a) For calendar years 2010 and 2011, an amount that is two times the base rate charged any other individual of a group to which the insurer is currently accepting new business and for which similar copayments and deductibles are applied;

(b) For calendar year 2012 and every year thereafter, an amount that is one and one-half times the base rate charged any other individual of a group to which the insurer is currently accepting new business and for which similar copayments and deductibles are applied, unless the superintendent of insurance determines that the amendments by this act to sections 3923.58 and 3923.581 of the Revised Code, have resulted in the market-wide average medical loss ratio for coverage sold to individual insureds and nonemployer group insureds in this state, including open enrollment insureds, to increase by more than five and one quarter percentage points during calendar year 2010. If the superintendent makes that determination, the premium limit established by division (B)(2)(a) of this section shall remain in effect.

At the election of the insurer, a separate converted policy may be issued to cover any dependent of an employee or member of the group.

Except as provided in division (H) of this section, any converted policy shall become effective as of the day following the date of termination of insurance under the group policy.

Any probationary or waiting period set forth in the converted policy is deemed to commence on the effective date of the insured's coverage under the group policy.

(C) No insurer shall be required to issue a converted policy to any person who is, or is eligible to be, covered for benefits at least comparable to the group policy under:

(1) Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, as amended or superseded;

(2) Any act of congress or law under this or any other state of the United States that duplicates coverage offered under division (C)(1) of this section;

(3) Any policy that duplicates coverage offered under division (C)(1) of this section;

(4) Any other group sickness and accident insurance providing hospital, surgical, or medical expense coverage for other than specific diseases or accidents only.

(D) The option for conversion shall be available:

(1) Upon the death of the employee or member, to the surviving spouse with respect to such of the spouse and dependents as are then covered by the group policy;

(2) To a child solely with respect to the child upon attaining the limiting age of coverage under the group policy while covered as a dependent thereunder;

(3) Upon the divorce, dissolution, or annulment of the marriage of the employee or member, to the divorced spouse, or former spouse in the event of annulment, of such employee or member, or upon the legal separation of the spouse from such employee or member, to the spouse. Persons possessing the option for conversion pursuant to this division shall be considered members for the purposes of division (H) of this section.

(E) If coverage is continued under a group policy on an employee following retirement prior to the time the employee is, or is eligible to be, covered by Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, the employee may elect, in lieu of the continuance of group insurance, to have the same conversion rights as would apply had the employee's insurance terminated at retirement by reason of termination of employment.

(F) If the insurer and the group policyholder agree upon one or more additional plans of benefits to be available for converted policies, the applicant for the converted policy may elect such a plan in lieu of a converted policy.

(G) The converted policy may contain provisions for avoiding duplication of benefits provided pursuant to divisions (C)(1), (2), (3), and (4) of this section or provided under any other insured or noninsured plan or program.

(H) If an employee or member becomes entitled to obtain a converted policy pursuant to this section, and if the employee or member has not received notice of the conversion privilege at least fifteen days prior to the expiration of the thirty-one-day conversion period provided in division (B) of this section, then the employee or member has an additional period within which to exercise the privilege. This additional period shall expire fifteen days after the employee or member receives notice, but in no event shall the period extend beyond sixty days after the expiration of the thirty-one-day conversion period.

Written notice presented to the employee or member, or mailed by the policyholder to the last known address of the employee or member as indicated on its records, constitutes notice for the purpose of this division. In the case of a person who is eligible for a converted policy under division (D)(2) or (D)(3) of this section, a policyholder shall not be responsible for presenting or mailing such notice, unless such policyholder has actual knowledge of the person's eligibility for a converted policy.

If an additional period is allowed by an employee or member for the exercise of a conversion privilege, and if written application for the converted policy, accompanied by at least the first quarterly premium, is made after the expiration of the thirty-one-day conversion period, but within the additional period allowed an employee or member in accordance with this division, the effective date of the converted policy shall be the date of application.

(I) The converted policy may provide that any hospital, surgical, or medical expense benefits otherwise payable with respect to any person may be reduced by the amount of any such benefits payable under the group policy for the same loss after termination of coverage.

(J) The converted policy may contain:

(1) Any exclusion, reduction, or limitation contained in the group policy or customarily used in individual policies issued by the insurer;

(2) Any provision permitted in this section;

(3) Any other provision not prohibited by law.

Any provision required or permitted in this section may be made a part of any converted policy by means of an endorsement or rider.

(K) The time limit specified in a converted policy for certain defenses with respect to any person who was covered by a group policy shall commence on the effective date of such person's coverage under the group policy.

(L) No insurer shall use deterioration of health as the basis for refusing to renew a converted policy.

(M) No insurer shall use age or health status as the basis for refusing to renew a converted policy.

(N) A converted policy made available pursuant to this section shall, if delivery of the policy is to be made in this state, comply with this section. If delivery of a converted policy is to be made in another state, it may be on a form offered by the insurer in the jurisdiction where the delivery is to be made and which provides benefits substantially in compliance with those required in a policy delivered in this state.

(O) As used in this section :

(1) "Base rate" means, as to any health benefit plan that is issued by an insurer in the individual market, the lowest premium rate for new or existing business prescribed by the insurer for the same or similar coverage under a plan or arrangement covering any individual of a group with similar case characteristics.

(2) "Federally eligible individual" means an eligible individual as defined in 45 C.F.R. 148.103 .

Suspended by 130th General Assembly File No. 15, SB 9, §3, which provides that during the period beginning on January 1, 2014, and expiring January 1, 2018, the operation of this section is suspended. If the amendments made by 42 U.S.C. 300gg-1 and 300gg-6, regarding the requirements related to health insurance coverage, do not take effect January 1, 2014, or become ineffective prior to the expiration of the suspension on January 1, 2018, then this section, in either its present form or as later amended, again becomes operational..

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.9, HB 1, §101.01, eff. 10/16/2009.

Effective Date: 03-22-1999

Related Legislative Provision: See 130th General Assembly File No. 15, SB 9, §3.