Short Term Health Insurance In South Carolina

According to federal law, Americans can’t have short-term health insurance plans that last for more than three months, a rule to which South Carolina adheres. It’s possible that the limit will soon increase to 364 days. Under the Trump administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a rule that would restore the duration of short-term policies to nearly a year at the federal level. Until the proposal is finalized, however, South Carolina residents must continue to keep their temporary health plans to under three months.

Some people in the state consider these plans a promising alternative to major medical insurance. For one thing, temporary health plans usually carry lower premium costs. Short-term policies might also feel like a more flexible option since you can customize them with added benefits – dental and vision, for example – that major medical policies don’t usually cover.

An extension on term limits may prompt more people to select temporary plans instead of traditional ones. In 2018, about 198,000 South Carolina residents subscribe to individual health insurance plans that are compliant with ACA rules. The Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute estimates that 16.4 percent of them (around 32,000 people) could drop out in 2019 if insurance rules change. Some might select limited-duration plans that they can keep for nearly an entire year instead.

It’s worth noting that there are distinct differences between short-term health plans and Obamacare policies. South Carolina law specifies that limited-duration plans do not count as individual health insurance. One of the biggest differences is that regular health insurance plans must conform to the ACA’s definition of minimum essential coverage and include 10 essential health benefits. Short term plans can pick and choose which benefits they cover.

The Kaiser Family Foundation performed a study of short term plans around the country in 2018. They found 17 plan options available in Columbia, South Carolina, and their offerings were generally in line with those of short term plans throughout the U.S. None of the South Carolina options included maternity care while 29 percent of plans had a prescription drug benefit, 35 percent provided some coverage for substance abuse treatment and 47 percent covered mental health services.

Short-term health insurance plans can also exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Past injuries or illness may completely bar you from getting a policy. Less serious problems in your medical history may not keep you from obtaining a plan, but the insurance company probably won’t pay any claims that are related to them.

These plans are non-renewable. At the end of a policy term, you must reapply if you want a new policy. This requires that you go through medical underwriting again, so any health problems that developed during your previous policy term could keep you from getting a new plan. As long as an insurer is willing to cover you again, South Carolina doesn’t restrict how many temporary health plans you can have in a row.

Carriers Offering Short Term Policies in South Carolina

National General Accident and Health
UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance Company)
The IHC Group (Independence Holding Company)
LifeShield National Insurance Company
Standard Life and Accident Insurance Company
Everest Prime