What You Need to Know
In Kansas, short-term health policies are available with terms of six or 12 months. You can renew once, for a maximum coverage period of 24 months.
You will pay a lower monthly premium for short-term health insurance than for a plan purchased under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without subsidies.
Unlike ACA plans short-term health plans are not required to offer essential benefits.
A gap in medical insurance can happen when you’re between jobs or waiting for other benefits to start. If you choose to go without health insurance, an illness or injury could put your health and financial security at risk. Short-term health insurance can help you bridge the gap and protect you from unexpected medical expenses.
Short-term plans are intended to provide temporary coverage. There are many companies in Kansas that offer short-term health insurance plans. In general, they are cheaper than those offered under the ACA, unless you qualify for a subsidy. The tradeoff is that short-term plans don’t provide the same level of coverage.
If you’re in between jobs or are waiting for new coverage to begin, a short-term health plan may make sense.
Who Should Buy Short-Term Plans in Kansas?
Temporary health insurance provides fast and inexpensive coverage. Here are some things to know when deciding whether this type of plan is right for you:
- Affordability: If you don’t qualify for a subsidy for an ACA plan, a short-term plan may be an affordable option. Be aware that in exchange for low monthly premiums, you will have higher out-of-pocket costs if you need medical care.
- Enrollment: Unlike the ACA which only allows you to sign up during certain times of the year, you can purchase a short-term plan at any time. But when the term of your short-term plan ends, you can’t sign up for an ACA plan until Open Enrollment. This period runs from November 1 to January 15 each year. In other words, loss of coverage from a short-term plan doesn’t qualify you for an ACA special enrollment period.
- Your Health Status: A short-term plan may work for you if you’re relatively healthy and only anticipate needing routine medical care plus coverage for emergency room and urgent care visits. You will likely be turned down if you have a preexisting condition. 1 And when you need care, you’ll pay more to access it than if you had an ACA plan. Plus these plans don’t have to cover the 10 essential benefits that ACA plans offer, such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and preventive health services.
- Life Events: A short-term health insurance plan makes the most sense during certain life events that create gaps in coverage, like when you:
- Are waiting for the open enrollment period to sign up for an ACA plan or waiting for your job benefits to kick in.
- Turn 26 and are no longer covered under your parent’s plan.
- Move to a location where your current plan is not accepted (for example, when you go to college).
- Are retiring but not yet eligible for Medicare.
- Are getting divorced and losing access to your spouse’s insurance.
A short-term plan may not be the best choice if you have medical conditions that require extensive care, or you need the ACA’s essential health benefits. In Wichita, Kansas, none of the short-term plans cover maternity care, 27% cover mental health services, 27% cover substance abuse counseling, and only 45% cover prescriptions. 2 Anyone who needs higher level health care coverage should explore other options.
The pros and cons of short-term plans include:
- Short-term plans can bridge a gap in health coverage created by a change in job or other life event.
- If you are relatively healthy, a short-term plan may be more affordable than an ACA plan.
- Short-term plans have high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.
- Preexisting conditions are not covered.
- Short-term plans are not required to cover the 10 essential health benefits of the ACA.
You can sign up for a short-term plan anytime unlike other policies that restrict when you can enroll.
How Much Are Kansas Short-Term Plans?
There are several types of health insurance costs:
- A premium is what you pay each month for your health plan.
- A deductible is the total amount you pay for medical services before your insurance starts paying.
- Coinsurance is the percent of medical costs that you pay after you’ve met your deductible.
- Copayments are fixed fees you pay for a covered service after you meet your deductible. Copayment levels vary for different types of visits, services or providers.
According to Pivot Health, premiums for short-term health insurance for a 35-year-old woman with no children who lives in Kansas range from:
- $86 to $231 in Wichita
- $92 to $209 in Kansas City
In both locations, deductibles range from $5,000 to $20,000 with no coinsurance and varying levels of copayments.
What Are Rules Governing Short-Term Plans in Kansas?
In 2018, the federal government expanded options for short-term insurance, allowing terms of up to 364 days, renewable up to 36 months. 3 However, Kansas has its own rules. The state only allowing terms up to six or 12 months long, renewable once up to 24 months. 4
There is no guarantee though, that you will be able to renew a short-term plan. If you develop a medical condition during your first term, you may not be able to renew your plan for a second term.
Who Sells Short-Term Plans in Kansas?
The availability of short-term insurance varies by state. Some of the insurance companies that offer short-term plans in Kansas include:
- Companion Life Insurance Company (Pivot Health)
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
- Independence American Insurance Company
- National Health Insurance Company
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance Company)
For Kansas residents experiencing a gap in health insurance coverage, a short-term plan may be a good option until you can get permanent coverage. But before deciding, explore all your health insurance options.
If you decide to purchase short-term insurance, make sure you understand the out-of-pocket expenses. By doing so, you’ll be better prepared to access medical services under your new plan.