1. Any person or persons may organize and maintain a small employer health group cooperative for the purpose of offering, providing, or facilitating the provision of coverage for health care services to its employer-members.
2. The membership of the small employer health group cooperative shall consist only of small employers. To participate as an employer-member of a small employer health group cooperative, an employer shall be a small employer.
3. A person or persons organizing a small employer health group cooperative and the small employers who propose to become employer-members of such cooperative shall jointly execute a small employer health group cooperative agreement. Such agreement shall identify the duties, rights and obligations of the parties, and may include terms addressing (i) the length of time an employer-member shall be enrolled through the cooperative and (ii) the conditions under which an employer-member may withdraw from the cooperative. If a small employer health group cooperative opts to be deemed the policyholder under subdivision 1 a of subsection B of this section, the small employer health group cooperative agreement shall include provisions addressing the collection of funds from employer-members for the payment of all premiums due under the group health policy. Such provisions shall specifically address all rights and obligations of each employer-member within the cooperative when one or more employer-members fails to remit its respective share of any premium due. Such provisions shall also describe the circumstances under which the group health policy will lapse for nonpayment of premiums and shall identify the grace period requirements applicable to group accident and sickness insurance, pursuant to § 38.2-3527. Nothing in this subsection nor in the small employer health group cooperative agreement shall preclude or operate to prevent enforcement by the issuer of the provisions of the group health policy addressing the payment of premiums and termination of the policy due to nonpayment of premium.
B. A small employer health group cooperative shall be treated as, and given the same consideration and privileges as, a single entity for purposes of negotiating the terms, including premium rates, under which coverage may be issued or provided to the employer-members of the cooperative by a health insurance issuer proposing to issue a group health policy or policies for such purpose covering employer-members of the cooperative within the service area of the issuer, as follows:
b. Be deemed only a sponsoring entity facilitating the acquisition of separate group health policies for its employer-members within the service area of the issuer, which may be made available through the cooperative by the issuer at terms mutually agreed upon by the cooperative and the issuer; and
2. A small employer health group cooperative opting to be deemed the policyholder under subdivision 1 a of this subsection shall obtain authorization acceptable to the health insurance issuer from each of its employer-members to act on behalf of the employer-members in this capacity. Such authorization:
C. To the extent that the activities of the cooperative or its representatives constitute selling, soliciting, or negotiating contracts of insurance, as those terms are defined in § 38.2-1800, the provisions of Chapter 18 (§ 38.2-1800 et seq.) of this title shall apply.
D. To the extent a small employer health group cooperative is a multiple employer welfare arrangement as that term is defined in regulations promulgated pursuant to § 38.2-3420, it shall be subject to all provisions of this title to the extent that such provisions are applicable to multiple employer welfare arrangements.
2006, c. 427.