Buying short-term health plans in Massachusetts
- Massachusetts laws are inhospitable to short-term plans.
- No insurers offer short-term plans in the state.
- This is due generally to the state’s guaranteed-issue and rating requirements that apply to all health plans.
- Massachusetts regulators will continue to impose tight regulations on short-term plans, despite new rules from the Trump Administration.
No short-term health plans available in Massachusetts
Massachusetts laws are inhospitable to short-term plans. As a result, there are no short-term health plans available for purchase in the state … because no insurers offer them.
This is generally due to the state’s “guaranteed-issue and rating requirements” that apply to all plans, including short-term plans. In addition, Massachusetts has had its own state-based individual health insurance mandate since 2006, and traditional short-term health insurance would not count as having coverage for the purpose of fulfilling the mandate.
Since 1996, Massachusetts has required all health plans marketed to individuals to be sold on a guaranteed-issue basis (ie, applications cannot be rejected based on medical history) “according to clearly defined rating rules.”
Short-term health insurance plans are virtually always medically underwritten and only available to fairly healthy applicants. So the rules in Massachusetts essentially prohibit short-term plans, as they would not be allowed to operate they way they do in most states.
State regulators in Massachusetts, along with a coalition of Massachusetts health plans, urged the Trump Administration to retain states’ rights to regulate short-term plans even after the federal rules were relaxed. The Trump Administration’s new rules for short-term plans are clear in noting that states may continue to impose tighter regulations than the new federal rules, and Massachusetts regulators made it clear that they intend to do so, noting that
“We therefore support the ability to regulate our own insurance market in a manner consistent with our commitment to broad, shared, and stable risk pools, and, as such, do not intend to take up the new flexibility around STLD plans offered in the proposed regulation.”
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.