Short Term Health Insurance In Washington
In Washington, if you need temporary insurance because you are dealing with a gap in health insurance coverage, a short-term health care plan may be the perfect option. These plans are specially designed to fill the gap when you’re in transition in life, whether that means coming off of a student health plan once you graduate, aging out of a family plan at age 26 or simply weighing your options for major medical policies until open enrollment starts in the fall. They provide temporary catastrophic coverage, but they only provide that coverage for a limited time. Premiums for short-term plans are usually less expensive than traditional insurance that’s compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Short-term medical plans in Washington do not meet the criteria required under the ACA as individual or group health insurance. This means that the policies are not required to cover the same benefits as ACA-compliant plans. If a short-term plan is the only healthcare coverage you have, you could face a tax penalty at the end of the year. This only applies to 2018 as the tax penalty has been zeroed out starting in 2019.
Short-term medical insurers can deny you coverage or charge higher premiums based on your medical history and do not have to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions. Your premiums can be based on your age, gender or other factors not permitted under the ACA, and certain illnesses or treatments can be denied coverage. Short-term plans also cap what they pay out in benefits. Most have higher deductibles as well.
These policies are not required to cover the 10 essential health benefits under the law, including maternity care, substance abuse or mental health treatment, or prescriptions. Some do, however. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of available short-term plans in Seattle found that of the two available, both covered mental health and substance abuse treatment. Neither covered prescription drugs or maternity care.
Short-term policies are currently limited to three months by federal law, but that may change later this year. The Trump administration wants to restore the durations of temporary health plans to the limit that existed before 2017, which was 364 days. Currently, Washington has not passed any legislation to restrict or limit short-term healthcare policies, but the state’s insurance commissioner has expressed concerns about lengthening short-term policy durations. In a stakeholder draft issued June 12, the commissioner offered clarified guidelines on how Washington interprets short-term policies.
For example, short-term carriers cannot review medical history beyond 24 months when using medical underwriting to exclude applicants, and plans are nonrenewable in the same year. Insurers also aren’t allowed to issue short-term policies during the annual open enrollment period for major medical insurance.
Carriers Offering Short-Term Policies in Washington
LifeMap Assurance Company
Marketplaces located at eHealth and Agile Health Insurance websites