Buying short-term health plans in Florida
- Short-term plans in Florida can have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months.
- Florida used to limit pre-existing condition exclusions on short-term plans that were renewable or lasted longer than six months. But that ended in mid-2019.
- At least seven insurers offer short-term plans in Florida.
Florida allows short-term plans to follow new federal duration rules, and has removed the state limits that used to apply to pre-existing condition exclusions
Until October 2, 2018, federal regulations limited short-term health insurance plans to no more than three months in duration, and prohibited renewals. The Trump Administration is now allowing for much longer short-term plans unless a state imposes its own restrictions.
Florida does not limit the duration of short-term plans beyond the federal rules, but prior to June 2019, the state had a statute that limited pre-existing condition exclusions on plans with terms of longer than six months. Florida Statute 627.6045 states that health plans cannot exclude pre-existing conditions for more than 24 months, and cannot look back more than 24 months to determine whether an applicant has pre-existing conditions. The law also says that a person who has prior continuous coverage (that’s at least as robust as the new coverage) during the 24 previous months is not subject to pre-existing condition exclusions. But prior to June 2019, it specifically exempted nonrenewable short-term plans with terms of no more than six months.
So if a short-term plan was nonrenewable and lasted no more than six months, the insurer could set its own rules regarding pre-existing conditions. But if the plan was renewable and/or had a term of more than six months, the insurer could only look at up to 24 months of medical history to determine whether pre-existing condition exclusions will apply, and could not impose pre-existing condition exclusions at all if the person had continuous creditable coverage during that time.
But in June 2019, Florida enacted S.322, which eliminated the requirement that the health plan be nonrenewable and last less than six months in order to be exempt from Florida’s pre-existing condition rules. The statute now simply says that it doesn’t apply to short-term plans as long as the plan discloses to the applicant that the policy will not cover pre-existing conditions and will not count as qualifying previous coverage if and when the person applies for a new policy under Florida’s pre-existing condition protection rules.
Even before Florida relaxed its rules for short-term plans, the majority of the short-term insurers in Florida were offering plans with initial terms in excess of six months. As of November 2018, United Healthcare (Golden Rule) appeared to be the only one that was limiting short-term plans to six months (by late 2019, Golden Rule was offering plans with terms of up to 12 months). At least six other insurers were offering plans with initial terms of up to 12 months in late 2018, and some were allowing total duration, including renewals, of up to three years. A closer look at plan brochures for some of those insurers indicated that pre-existing condition lookback periods of up to five years were being used, so it was unclear how well insurers were complying with Florida’s rules regarding pre-existing conditions and longer short-term plans.
How long can short-term plans last in Florida?
Florida does not have state-specific limits on the allowable duration of short-term health insurance plans, so the state defaults to the federal regulations. Florida does not consider short-term health plans to be individual health insurance, which is the same as the federal approach. (This is why short-term plans are exempt from ACA regulation.)
Because Florida does not limit short-term plans, the Trump Administration’s new regulations apply in the state. Insurers can offer short-term plans with initial terms up to 364 days and the option to renew for a total duration of up to 36 months.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Florida?
- Aspen Insurance
- Companion Life
- Everest Prime
- Independence American Insurance Company
- National General
- Standard Life
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule)
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.