Buying a short-term plan in Ohio
- Ohio defaults to the federal regulations for short-term plans.
- Short-term plans can have initial terms of up to 364 days and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months.
- Ohio has a regulatory FAQ that defines short-term plans as lasting not more than six months, but that appears to be erroneous.
- At least seven insurers offer short-term plans in Ohio.
How long can short-term plans last in Ohio?
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.
The Ohio Department of Insurance confirmed that the state defaults to the federal regulations in terms of short-term plan durations. So short-term plans in Ohio can now have initial terms of up to 364 days and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months. The Department noted that they had received an internal memo confirming this shortly before the new rules took effect in October 2018.
Interestingly, in an FAQ about mental health parity, Ohio defines short-term health insurance plans as having a duration of not more than six months. But we have not been able to locate that definition anywhere in Ohio insurance statutes, and the Ohio Department of Insurance was unsure how that came to be in the FAQ [For a question about which health plans are not subject to the mental health parity law, the answer includes “one-time-limited duration policies of not longer than six months (short-term)“]
For many years prior to 2017, federal law defined short-term plans as having a duration of less than one year. The rules changed in 2017 when an Obama Administration rule took effect, limiting short-term plans to no more than three months. The rules changed again in October 2018, allowing short-term plans to once again have initial durations of less than one year (and total duration of up to 36 months, if the plan is renewable). Federal law has never limited short-term plans to six months in duration, although several other states have opted for six-month limits (state regulations for short-term insurance supersede federal rules if the state rules are more stringent).
The Ohio Department of Insurance noted that the state has always defaulted to federal regulations for the maximum duration of short-term plans, which makes it particularly curious that their mental health FAQ defines short-term plans as being no more than six months in duration. But it appears that may have been a typo, as the definitive answer from the Department of Insurance is that short-term plans follow federal duration limits, and are now allowed to have initial terms of up to 364 days and total duration of up to 36 months.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Ohio?
- Companion Life
- Everest Prime
- Independence American Life
- 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.