Short Term Health Insurance In Texas
Texas residents looking for an affordable alternative to major medical health insurance may consider short term health plans. These policies, as the name implies, last for just a short period. Current federal law limits short term health insurance to just three months, but new rules proposed by the Trump administration could restore the limit to what existed before 2017. If those rules get finalized, and they likely will, Texas residents may once again be able to buy temporary health plans that last up to 364 days. The Lone Star State currently follows federal regulations regarding term limits for these plans.
Short-term plans don’t cover everything that a major medical policy does. Preventive screenings, maternity care, wellness checks and even prescription drugs may be excluded. Nearly every carrier excludes pre-existing conditions. Unlike plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), temporary policies can use medical underwriting to deny coverage or limit benefits. Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed plans from Houston, Texas, and found that of the 18 plans available there at the time of the survey, 72 percent covered mental health services and 44 percent covered substance abuse treatments. Just 28 percent covered prescription drugs while none covered maternity care.
These plans also don’t count as minimum essential coverage under the law, meaning that if you have a policy in place, it won’t protect you from getting hit with the fine for not having health insurance. That fine will be zeroed out starting in 2019, though, which could encourage more people to choose short term coverage over major medical.
The Urban Institute looked at the impact that expanding the duration limit of short-term health plans would have throughout the country. In Texas, the institute predicts that about 211,000 people would drop their ACA-compliant health plans if short term policies get expanded to last nearly a year, which represents 19.3 percent of the insured population with Obamacare policies.
The Texas Department of Insurance reminds consumers on its website that short-term policies last less than 12 months, don’t cover pre-existing conditions and aren’t guaranteed renewable. That means that once your policy ends, you won’t be automatically re-enrolled into the same plan. You’ll have to apply for coverage again as if you had never had a policy, which also means you’ll face medical underwriting again. Some companies bundle plans together for consecutive periods, a practice that may not be necessary anymore once the Trump administration’s proposed rules become final.
Carriers Offering Short-Term Policies in Texas
Golden Rule Insurance Company (UnitedHealthcare)
Standard Life and Accident Insurance Company
Independence Holding Company (IHC Group)