Buying short-term health plans in Iowa
- Iowa defaults to federal guidelines on short-term health plans.
- That means plans can have initial durations of up to 364 days and renewals up to 36 months.
- Iowa regulators are considering additional rules for short-term plans in the state.
- At least eight insurers offer short-term plans in Iowa.
Iowa follows federal short-term guidelines
Iowa does not currently have state-specific restrictions for short-term health insurance plans, so the state defaults to the federal regulations. But Iowa Insurance Comissioner, Doug Ommen, has indicated that the state is considering regulations to ensure that short-term plans provide comprehensive (“fulsome”) coverage and allow at least one guaranteed renewal.
Ommen and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds support the Trump Administration’s new regulations for short-term plans, and are supportive of the decision to return to the pre-2017 definition of “short-term,” which only required such plans to have terms of less than one full year.
How long can short-term plans last in Iowa?
Because Iowa does not limit short-term plans, the Trump Administration’s new regulations apply in the state, until if and when state regulators issue new guidance. (Although the state has indicated that new short-term health plan regulations are under consideration, proposed regulations had not been published as of September 2018.)
Under the new federal rules, insurers are allowed to offer short-term plans with initial terms up to 364 days and have the option to renew the coverage for a total duration of up to 36 months. But as noted in Ommen’s letter to CMS earlier in 2018, Iowa might opt to make at least one guaranteed renewal mandatory for short-term plans, to prevent an enrollee from ending up uninsured if they develop a pre-existing condition while covered under a short-term plan. The termination of a short-term plan is not a qualifying event, so it would not allow a person to purchase a new, ACA-compliant plan (ie, a plan that covers pre-existing conditions and can’t reject an applicant based on medical history).
Without a guaranteed renewal option for the short-term plan, the person would have to wait until the next open enrollment period for ACA-compliant plans. Iowa regulators have indicated that they want to address this issue and are considering regulations to ensure that a person in this situation would be allowed to renew their short-term coverage (with no medical underwriting) at least once, in order to maintain coverage until the next open enrollment period for ACA-compliant plans.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Iowa?
- Companion Life
- Everest Prime
- Golden Rule (UnitedHealthcare)
- Independence American Life
- National General
- 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.