Short Term Health Insurance In Nebraska
Nebraska law doesn’t specifically regulate the length of short term health plans. Instead, the state relies on federal guidelines to determine the maximum length of these plans. Current regulations stipulate that short term health insurance policies must be limited to less than three months, so that’s the guideline on which Nebraska residents must rely.
The federal rule may soon change. The Trump administration wants to allow people to sign up for plans that last up to 364 days. In that case, Nebraska residents would have the opportunity to be covered by a single temporary health insurance plan for nearly one full year.
If the current administration is successful in expanding short term health insurance options, some people in the state might choose those plans over regular health insurance. Short term health insurance operates outside the regulations of the Affordable Care Act, so it doesn’t have to provide all of the required health benefits of major medical. With limited coverage, the premiums are typically lower. These lower costs are often enticing to consumers, especially people who are young and healthy.
The Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute estimates that about 15 percent of Nebraska’s current Obamacare enrollees might drop their plans if the maximum duration of temporary health insurance is extended to 364 days. That would be about 16,000 people who might choose not to re-enroll in an individual plan that’s compliant with the ACA. Instead, those people might choose to get coverage through temporary plans.
Nebraska insurance officials remind consumers that short term insurance plans are not the same as ACA-compliant health insurance. Temporary plans may exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, set a cap on lifetime payments, and pick and choose the benefits that are included for coverage.
For example, short term plans are specifically exempt from following Nebraska’s Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act of 1996 and the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998. This means that short term insurance policies are not bound to rules about how long new mothers can stay in the hospital, and they don’t have to cover reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy.
In fact, your temporary health plan probably won’t provide any coverage for maternity services. The Kaiser Family Foundation evaluated 20 short term health insurance plans that were available in Omaha in 2018, and none of them made allowance for prenatal care or childbirth.
Many of the Omaha plans didn’t cover other important health services either. Only 35 percent included prescription drug benefits. While 55 percent provided coverage for mental health services, only 30 percent would pay any portion of treatment for substance abuse.
Because temporary health insurance plans are not in line with ACA rules, having one doesn’t exempt you from the penalty for not having health insurance. For the remainder of 2018, you might have to pay this fine if you opt for short term coverage instead of traditional major medical insurance.
Nebraska officials encourage consumers with questions or concerns about these plans to contact the Department of Insurance’s Consumer Affairs Division. Consumers should never feel pressured into buying such a plan or be made to believe that this coverage meets ACA standards.
Carriers Offering Short Term Policies in Nebraska
UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance Company)
Standard Life and Accident Insurance Company
National General Accident and Health
The IHC Group (Independence Holding Company)
Companion Life Insurance Company (Pivot Health)