Frequently asked questions about
short-term health insurance in Kansas
Yes. As of late 2021, there were nine insurers approved by the Kansas Department of Insurance to offer short-term health insurance in Kansas.
As of early 2022, 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.
But both chambers of the Kansas legislature have passed a bill (SB199) that would eliminate the “six months or 12 months” language, as well as the one renewal limit. If signed by the governor, the new legislation would simply align Kansas statute with the current federal rules for short-term plans, allowing them to have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration of up to three years.
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. But that would change if SB199 is enacted.
Kansas has a minimum loss ratio requirement of 60%. 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.
As noted above, SB199, which had passed both chambers of the Kansas legislature as of March 2022, calls for the state to align its short-term health plan rules with the federal rules that were implemented by the Trump administration in 2018. If enacted, this legislation would allow short-term plans in Kansas to have an initial term of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to three years.
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.
The legislation was revived in 2022 and had passed both chambers of the legislature by March 2022. But even if it’s signed into law by the governor, the state’s rules would still depend on federal restrictions. So if the Biden administration decides to roll back the Trump-era regulations on short-term health insurance plans, the new regulations would likely be designed to supersede any less lenient state rules.
As of late 2021, the Kansas Insurance Department reported that nine insurers were offering short-term plans in Kansas:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
- Independence American Insurance Company
- National General
- United Healthcare (Golden Rule)
- Freedom Life
- The North River Insurance Company
- Pan-Am Life Insurance Company
- Standard Life
- United States Fire Insurance Company
The Kansas Insurance Department clarified that some of these insurers only offer 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).
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 trying to enroll in health insurance in Kansas outside of the annual open enrollment period (November 1 to January 15), 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.
And at least through the end of 2022, there’s a special enrollment period for people whose income is between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level.
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).
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.
- 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 (but the loss of your prior coverage would also trigger a special enrollment period during which you could buy an ACA-compliant plan in the Kansas marketplace; this is true even if you’re offered the option to continue your prior coverage with 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 people caught by the ACA’s family glitch.