Buying a short-term plan in Louisiana
- State regulations restrict insurers’ exclusion of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- Short-term plans are not subject to the restrictions, as long as they have terms of no more than six months.
- The Trump Administration’s new regulations allow short-term plans to have longer terms, but Louisiana’s six-month limit will continue to apply.
- At least seven insurers offer short-term plans in Louisiana.
Duration of short-term health plans is limited in Louisiana
Until October 2, 2018, federal regulations limited short-term health plans to no more than three months in duration, and prohibited renewals. But the Trump Administration relaxed those rules, allowing for much longer short-term plans, unless states impose their own requirements.
Louisiana insurance regulations (see Title 22, Section 1072) place restrictions on how insurers can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. But the regulations stipulate that in short-term health insurance plans are not subject to the restrictions, as long as they have terms of no more than six months.
Other health plans — including plans with terms of more than six months — can only define pre-existing conditions as those for which treatment was provided in the past 12 months (or which would have caused a prudent person to seek treatment in the past 12 months), and current pregnancy.
Short-term health plans typically look back more than 12 months when considering whether an enrollee’s condition was pre-existing, but to do that in Louisiana, the plan must have a term of six months or less.
Elsewhere in Title 22, Section 1072, the statute refers to the federal definition of short-term health insurance plans. But the Louisiana Department of Insurance confirmed that the six-month limit on the initial term does apply in Louisiana. The state does not limit or prohibit renewals or subsequent purchases of additional short-term coverage.
Effect of Trump Administration’s new regulations
The Trump Administration’s new regulations allow short-term plans to have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of 36 months. But the regulations are clear in noting that states may continue to have more restrictive rules.
So short-term plans in Louisiana are limited to initial terms of six months. But if the insurer opts to allow enough renewals for the plan to have a total duration of 36 months, that would be allowed under both federal and state rules.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Louisiana?
- Companion Life
- Everest Prime
- Independence American Life
- National General
- Standard Life
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule)
In May 2018, Michael Bertaut, a healthcare economist and HealthCare.gov exchange coordinator for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, addressed the then-proposed federal regulations to expand access to short-term plans. In answer to the question about whether a person will be able to buy a short-term health plan from BCBSLA, Bertaut’s article clarifies that the insurer is “very closely monitoring the evolving rules on STLD health insurance, both at the state and federal level.” So it’s possible that the list of insurers that offer short-term plans in Louisiana could change after the new federal rules take effect.
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.