Short-term health plans in Connecticut
- Connecticut places strict regulations on short-term health plans, and none are for sale in the state as of 2020.
- Short-term plan duration is limited to six months in Connecticut.
- Short-term plans in Connecticut cannot be renewed.
- As of 2019, the state requires short-term plans to cover essential health benefits.
- Two insurers offered short-term plans in Connecticut in 2018, but none are offering coverage as of 2019.
Connecticut imposes strict regulations on short-term plans
As of October 2, 2018, the Trump administration relaxed the rules in terms of the allowable duration of short-term health insurance plans. But states can continue to impose more strict restrictions, and Connecticut does. As a result of the state’s regulations, including a requirement that short-term plans cover essential health benefits, there are no insurers offering short-term plans as of 2019.
Before the new federal rules took effect, Connecticut’s Insurance Commissioner, Katharine Wade, noted that “Connecticut already has the necessary statutory consumer protections in place to prohibit ‘junk plans.’ ”
After the Trump administration’s new regulations for short-term plans were finalized, the Connecticut Insurance Department issued a statement (Bulletin HC-121) to clarify the state’s rules for short-term plans, which remained in effect after the federal rules were relaxed.
How long can short-term plans last in Connecticut?
Short-term plans in Connecticut cannot have durations in excess of six months, and cannot be renewable.
Connecticut’s general statute 38a-476 requires health insurance plans to cover pre-existing conditions, unless the plan is “a short-term health insurance policy issued on a nonrenewable basis for six months or less.”
Short-term plans virtually always exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions, so short-term plans are effectively limited to six months in duration. And it’s noteworthy that Connecticut’s law only allows them to exclude pre-existing conditions for which the patient received medical treatment/advice during the 24 months prior to the policy effective date.
Short-term plans are required to cover essential health benefits in Connecticut
As of January 1, 2019, Connecticut requirer short-term plans to cover essential health benefits (EHBs). In most states, short-term plans do not include coverage for all of the essential health benefits — maternity, prescription drug, and mental health coverage are most likely to be lacking.
So it is not surprising that Connecticut has joined the list of states where there are no longer any short-term plans for sale as of 2019. Avoiding coverage for some of the essential health benefits is one of the ways that short-term plans keep their costs down, and a state-level requirement to cover essential health benefits makes the market unattractive to short-term insurers.
Connecticut’s determination that short-term plans must cover EHBs was issued in a regulatory bulletin in 2018, but legislators considered a bill in 2019 that would have codified this requirement into state law. SB34 did not advance out of committee, but the state’s existing regulation is still in place. And as of 2019, there are no insurers offering short-term plans in the state.
Which insurers offer short-term coverage in Connecticut?
In late 2018, there were short-term plans available in Connecticut from National General and United States Fire Insurance Company. But by 2019, no insurers were offering short-term plans in the state.
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.