Consumers can’t buy short-term plans in Rhode Island
- Due to Rhode Island’s strict regulations, no insurers offer short-term plans in the state.
- All plans must cover essential health benefits, cover pre-existing conditions, and premiums cannot be based on medical history.
- No short-term health plans have been approved for sale in Rhode Island for several years.
- The new federal regulations allow states to impose their own rules for short-term plans, and Rhode Island will continue to do so.
- Lawmakers considered (but didn’t pass) a bill to codify current regulations in 2018. But current regulations will still continue in force.
Insurers choose not to offer short-term plans
Short-term health insurance plans are not banned in Rhode Island, but the state’s regulations are strict enough that no insurers choose to offer plans in the state. The Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) has long enforced regulations requiring all state-regulated health insurance plans sold in Rhode Island — including short-term plans — to follow various state rules.
Plan requirements too onerous for short-term carriers
All plans must cover all essential health benefits and state-mandated benefits. Insurers are also required to cover pre-existing conditions and cannot adjust premiums based on an applicant’s medical history. Complying with these rules is too onerous for most short-term insurers, and would result in much higher premiums than short-term plans usually have. As a result of Rhode Island’s rules, there are no insurers offering short-term plans in the state.
The Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner’s Office confirmed that there used to be short-term plans available in the state, but that they have not approved any for sale in the last several years.
Legislation (S2931) was considered in 2018 in an effort to codify and strengthen the state’s regulations for short-term plans into law. It passed in the Senate but not in the House. However, the Insurance Commissioner’s Office noted that nothing will change as a result of that bill not being enacted. The state will continue to require all plans to cover state-mandated benefits and cover pre-existing conditions. So the type of short-term plans that are sold in most states will not be approved for sale in Rhode Island.
State will continue to impose strict rules on short-term
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 Rhode Island will continue to do so.
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.