Buying short-term health plans in Idaho
- Short-term plans in Idaho can have terms of up to 364 days.
- Short-term plans were previously defined in Idaho as being non-renewable, but new legislation signed into law in 2019 allows for “enhanced” short-term plans that can be renewed; these plans are expected to be available by 2020.
- Idaho consumers have received cautions from the state about the potential drawbacks of short-term plans.
- 3,769 people had short-term coverage in Idaho in 2016.
- At least seven insurers offer short-term plans in Idaho.
How long can short-term plans last in Idaho?
Under longstanding rules, Idaho allows short-term health plans to have durations of up to one year (constrained by federal regulations — so until October 2, 2018, the maximum term was three months, but it is 364 days now that the Trump Administration’s new regulations are in effect).
Until 2019, Idaho regulations clarified that if plans were renewable, they were subject to Idaho’s rules that apply to Idaho’s individual insurance market, including a requirement that the plans be guaranteed renewable. So short-term plans were defined in Idaho as being non-renewable (see Idaho insurance statutes, Title 41, Chapter 52).
But in April 2019, Idaho enacted legislation (H.275) that allows for the creation of “enhanced” short-term plans. While these plans will still be required to have initial terms that are under 12 months, they’ll be renewable “at the option of the insured.” That’s an important distinction; the federal regulations that were finalized in 2018 allow short-term plans to be renewable, but at the discretion of the insurer. Idaho’s new legislation appears to require insurers that offer “enhanced” short-term plans to let members renew their coverage.
In keeping with federal regulations, total plan duration, including renewals, cannot exceed 36 months. But H.275 also indicates that the insurer will have to allow a member to reapply for another policy after one policy ends and its renewal opportunities have been exhausted [see 41-5207(h)].
H.275 called for the addition of Section 5214 to Idaho Code Title 41, Chapter 52, which had been added by mid-2019. The legislation stated that the new rules would be effective immediately. But as of mid-2019, the Idaho Department of Insurance website still indicated that short-term plans are non-renewable in Idaho, and a search of plans available for purchase did not show any that were renewable. However, an April 2019 bulletin published by the Idaho Department of Insurance noted that short-term plans with “limited renewability” were likely to be available in Idaho by 2020.
Idaho and short-term insurance regulations
The Idaho Department of Insurance published a news release in 2016, cautioning residents about the potential drawbacks of short-term health insurance, while noting that the plans can be appropriate for people who missed open enrollment and don’t have access to a special enrollment period for ACA-compliant coverage.
In 2017, the Idaho Department of Insurance published an overview of coverage in the state. As of 2016, there were 3,769 people with short-term health insurance coverage in Idaho, which was a decrease of 13.3 percent since 2015.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Idaho?
- Blue Cross of Idaho
- Companion Life
- Everest Reinsurance (Everest and Everest Prime)
- Independence American Insurance Company
- Life Map
- Select Health (Transition plans)
- Standard Life
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.