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Short-term health insurance in Kansas

Kansas limits short-term plans to one renewal, but legislation to change that has been introduced in 2021

As the name indicates, short-term health insurance is designed to fill short gaps in coverage. It’s not as comprehensive as regular major medical health insurance, and it’s not suitable (or available) to serve as a person’s only coverage for a significant length of time.

Kansas short-term health insurance regulations

Short-term health insurance in Kansas is defined in Kansas Statute 40-2, 193.

Kansas has a minimum loss ratio requirement of 60 percent. But under the terms of Kansas Statute 40-2, 193, this only applies to  short-term coverage if any monthly administrative fees are excluded from the medical loss ratio calculation.

Short-term plan duration in Kansas

The state law limits short-term health insurance in Kansas to terms of “six months or 12 months, based upon policy design.” (The Kansas Insurance Department has clarified that the distinction between six-month and 12-month plans is up to the insurer; from a regulatory standpoint, the maximum term is 12 months).

Kansas statute also limits short-term coverage to no more than one renewal period, regardless of whether the insurer uses medical underwriting for the renewal.

Under federal rules that took effect in 2018, short-term health insurance policies can have initial terms up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months. The regulations are clear, however, in noting that states may continue to impose tighter regulations than the new federal rules. Since Kansas statute only allows for a maximum short-term plan duration of 12 months and no more than one renewal, the maximum total duration of a short-term plan in Kansas is currently 24 months.

Legislation introduced in 2021 to change the rules for short-term plans in Kansas

S.B.199 was introduced in the Kansas Senate in February 2021. The bill calls for the language of Kansas Statute 40-2, 193 to be altered so that it aligns with the current federal rules. The reference to six to 12-month limits would be replaced with an initial term limit of under 12 months, and the current limit of no more than one renewal would be rewritten so that renewals could be allowed up to a total duration of 36 months.

If this legislation passes, however, the state’s new rules would still depend on federal restrictions. And it’s expected that the Biden administration could take steps to roll back the Trump-era regulations on short-term health insurance plans, under the terms of an executive order that President Biden signed in January 2021.

Which insurance companies offer short-term plans in Kansas?

As of early 2020, the Kansas Insurance Department reported that five insurers were offering short-term plans in Kansas. However, a sixth insurer, National General, began offering short-term health insurance policies in mid-2020. These insurers provide short-term health insurance coverage in Kansas as of late 2020:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
  • Independence American Insurance Company
  • National General
  • United Healthcare (Golden Rule)
  • Freedom Life
  • Standard Life
  • United States Fire Insurance Company

The Kansas Insurance Department also notes that an additional insurer, Pan-Am Life Insurance, offers what’s known as a “mandate-lite” plan in the state, which means it doesn’t include at least one of the normal benefits mandated by Kansas statutes.

An agent or broker can help you compare the coverage options and costs for short-term health insurance in Kansas and determine which will best fit your needs. Some things to keep in mind are the allowable plan durations (some insurers cap their plans at shorter durations than the maximum the state allows), whether the insurer offers guaranteed renewability, and the specific benefits the plan covers.

Pay attention to things such as whether the plan covers outpatient prescription drugs (most short-term health insurance plans do not, but some do), and whether it imposes specific dollar limitations on services such as inpatient care, surgery, etc. (in addition to the plan’s overall benefit maximum).

Who can get short-term health insurance in Kansas?

Short-term health insurance in Kansas can be purchased by residents (individuals or families) who meet the underwriting guidelines of insurers. In general, this means being under 65 years old and in fairly good health.

Short-term health medical insurance plans typically include blanket exclusions for pre-existing conditions, so these types of plans are not adequate for someone in the Sunflower State who needs medical care for a chronic ongoing or pre-existing condition. It is advisable to seek a medical insurance policy that will cover those needs.

If you’re in need of health insurance coverage in Kansas, first check your eligibility for a special enrollment period which would allow you to enroll in an ACA-compliant major medical plan. There are a variety of qualifying life events that will trigger a special enrollment period and allow you to buy a plan through the health insurance exchange in Kansas. These plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, so you can enroll even if you only need coverage for a few months before another policy takes effect (with a premium subsidy if you’re eligible).

When should I consider short-term health insurance in Kansas?

From Colby to Wichita, there may be situations when a short-term plan might be an attractive option, such as:

  • If you missed open enrollment for ACA-compliant individual market coverage (i.e., Obamacare) or your employer’s healthcare plan, and do not have a qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period (note that in 2021, from February 15 to May 15, anyone can enroll in a plan through HealthCare.gov, during a COVID-related special enrollment period that the Biden administration has opened).
  • If you’re switching jobs and have a waiting period until you can be covered by your new employer’s health insurance plan; short-term insurance is typically a much more affordable stopgap than COBRA.
  • You will soon qualify for Medicare.
  • If you’re not eligible for Medicaid or a premium subsidy in the exchange, the monthly premiums for an ACA-compliant plan might simply not be affordable. People ineligible for premium subsidies include:

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.

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