There are lots of reasons why you may find yourself without health insurance. Maybe you’ve lost your job and the health plan that came with it. Or you’re waiting for an Open Enrollment period to sign up for an Affordable Act (ACA) plan. Or perhaps you’re waiting to be eligible for Medicare.
Going without health insurance is risky, even if it’s just for a short time and you don’t have any medical conditions. You never know when an unexpected illness or injury may happen. If you don’t have a health policy, you could be left with significant medical debt that you will have to pay out of pocket. A temporary health insurance plan is an affordable option in many states. But Hawaii law virtually prohibits the sale of short-term plans. Fortunately, you have other options.
What You Need to Know
Hawaii law regarding short-term health insurance is so restrictive that no insurers offer plans.
Residents can explore other options, including ACA plans, Medicaid, or COBRA for coverage.
Short-term medical insurance typically doesn’t cover everything ACA plans are required to provide.
What Is Hawaii Short-Term Health Insurance?
Short-term health insurance plans provide temporary coverage you can purchase at any time during the year. Coverage may begin as soon as you enroll.
Federal regulations allow terms lasting up to 364 days a year. Renewals are allowed three times or up to 36 months.1 Some states follow these rules, while others, like Hawaii, have developed their own rules. In Hawaii, state law regarding short-term plans is so restrictive that no insurance carriers offer plans in the Aloha State.
With short-term insurance in most states, premiums tend to be more affordable than the cost of a marketplace plan without a subsidy. But there’s a tradeoff. Short-term plans aren’t required to provide the essential health insurance benefits that ACA plans do. For example, they’re not required to cover preventive care, mental health services, maternity care, and other benefits. They also don’t have to cover preexisting conditions.
Consider All Costs
In addition to the premium, make sure you know the deductible, coinsurance, and copayments of the plans you’re evaluating.
Can You Enroll in Short-Term Plans in Hawaii?
In 2018, Hawaii enacted a law that prohibits the sale or renewal of short-time health insurance plans to anyone who was eligible to purchase an ACA-compliant plan in the previous calendar year. Whether during Open Enrollment or a Special Enrollment period. In addition, Hawaii’s rules state that short-term plans can provide coverage for no longer than 90 days.2
Since virtually all Hawaii residents are eligible to purchase a Marketplace plan, short-term insurance companies have no significant market in the state. No companies currently sell short-term plans in Hawaii.
Protect Your Health
Going without health insurance is risky, even for a short amount of time. Carefully weigh all your options.
What Are Alternatives for Immediate Health Insurance in Hawaii?
Since short-term health plans are unavailable in Hawaii, you will need to review other options. These include buying an ACA plan, signing up for COBRA coverage, or looking into Medicaid eligibility.
The advantage of an ACA plan is that you may qualify for a subsidy. Premium subsidies are based on household income. But you can only purchase ACA plans during the Open Enrollment Period unless you have a qualifying life event. Examples include losing the health care coverage you had through your job or your spouse’s job or getting married. In these cases, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
If you have lost your employer-provided health plan, you may be able to continue coverage under COBRA. This can be an expensive option, as you will have to pay the entire plan premium. But it might make sense if you need coverage for a limited time.3
Med-QUEST is Hawaii’s Medicaid program which covers residents who meet citizenship requirements and have a Social Security Number. A household of one may have assets valued at up to $2,000 to qualify for coverage. The asset limit does not apply to pregnant women or children up to age 6.4
When choosing any plan, you should consider all plan costs, including out-of-pocket expenses including deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance, not just the premium.
How Does Short-Term Health Insurance Differ from Obamacare in Hawaii?
If short-term plans were available in Hawaii, you could enroll at any time and be covered immediately. Your monthly premiums for a short-term plan would be lower than what you would pay for an ACA-compliant plan without a premium subsidy.
However, the benefits of a short-term plan would be more limited than those you would have with a Marketplace plan. They may be a good option if you:
- Don’t qualify for an ACA subsidy and need an affordable alternative.
- Are in relatively good health and don’t access healthcare services often.
- Are aging out of coverage on your parent’s plan. ·
- Need to fill a gap between employer-sponsored coverage and your next job.
- Are waiting to be eligible for Medicare coverage.
On the other hand, ACA-compliant plans are the best option if you:
- Have a preexisting health condition.
- Have a medical condition that requires you to see a healthcare provider often.
- Qualify for subsidies that make premiums more affordable.
Who Sells Short-Term Plans in Hawaii?
No insurance companies currently sell short-term health insurance plans in Hawaii.
Despite the lack of short-term plans available in Hawaii, there are other options if you need temporary health coverage, so start shopping. There are insurance companies that offer other options that could fill the gap. Even if they are more expensive, they may save you from the high cost of unexpected medical care. Coverage in the short term could save you a lot of money in the long run.