Frequently asked questions about
short-term health insurance in Louisiana
Yes. As of 2022, there were at least eight insurers offering short-term health insurance in Louisiana.
The federal regulations that were finalized in 2018 allow short-term plans to have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of 36 months.
Louisiana’s regulations (Title 22) allow short-term plans in the state to follow the federal guidelines.
Louisiana does not limit or prohibit renewals or subsequent purchases of additional short-term coverage, so people can purchase a new plan when their short-term coverage expires (assuming the existing plan is not eligible for renewal), as long as they can pass the medical underwriting for a new policy.
As of 2022, there are at least eight insurers offering short-term health insurance in Louisiana:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana (HMO Louisiana, plan is sold as Bridge Blue)
- Vantage Health Plan
- Companion Life
- Everest Reinsurance
- Independence American Insurance Company
- National General
- The North River Insurance Company
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule)
In most states, it’s fairly rare to see the insurers that offer ACA-compliant plans also offering short-term health plans. But three of the insurers that offer ACA-compliant plans in Louisiana (UnitedHealthcare, BCBSLA and Vantage Health Plan) also offer short-term plans. BCBSLA began offering short-term plans in late 2018, and Vantage’s short-term plans became available as of January 2019.
The short-term plans offered by Vantage and by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana include full coverage for certain preventive and wellness services, and BCBSLA’s short-term plans also include coverage for prescription drugs. Coverage for preventive care and prescription drugs is somewhat rare for short-term plans (note that the preventive care and prescription coverage is not as extensive as it would be with an ACA compliant plan though — for example, contraceptives are not covered at all under BCBSLA’s short-term plans).
Short-term health insurance in Louisiana can be purchased by applicants who can meet the underwriting guidelines the insurers use. In general, this means being under 65 years old (some insurers put the age limit at 64 years) and in fairly good health.
Short-term health plans typically include blanket exclusions for pre-existing conditions. This means they will not be adequate for residents of the Bayou State who need medical care for ongoing health conditions. And because short-term plans do not have to cover essential healthcare benefits, they often have significant limitations and gaps in the coverage, making it important to read the fine print carefully.
If you need health insurance in Louisiana, you’ll first want to determine whether you’re eligible to enroll in an ACA-compliant major medical plan (Obamacare) instead, and whether you’d qualify for a premium subsidy through the Louisiana health insurance exchange (if you’re eligible for a subsidy, the monthly premiums for an ACA-compliant plan may be much less costly than you were expecting, and even more affordable than the premiums for short-term plans).
Open enrollment for these policies runs from November 1 to January 15 each year. Outside that window, you may still be able to enroll if you experience a qualifying life event that triggers a special enrollment period (note that in 2022, there is an ongoing enrollment opportunity if you’re eligible for a premium tax credit and your household income doesn’t exceed 150% of the poverty level). Your medical history will not hinder your eligibility for these plans, but you can only purchase an ACA-compliant plan during open enrollment or a special enrollment period.
ACA-compliant plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, so you can enroll in one even if you’ll need it for only a few months before another policy takes effect. So for example, if you know that you’ll be enrolled in Medicare or a plan offered by a new employer within a few months, you can still sign up for an ACA-compliant plan (during open enrollment or a special enrollment period) and then cancel it when your new coverage begins.
But if you can’t enroll in an ACA-compliant individual market plan or a plan offered by an employer, a short-term plan is a better option than remaining uninsured.
Excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions can make short-term policies appear more affordable than ACA-compliant policies. However, that upfront affordability can quickly be wiped out by out-of-pocket expenses (like deductibles and coinsurance) or any costs for a healthcare service for an uncovered condition (which is much more likely to happen with a short-term policy, given their long exclusion lists). That said, there may be situations in which it makes sense to use a short-term plan, such as:
- If you missed open enrollment for ACA-compliant coverage and do not have a qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period.
- If you are newly employed and have a waiting period until you can be covered by your new employer’s health insurance plan; short-term insurance may provide a much more affordable (but less comprehensive) stopgap than COBRA or an ACA-compliant plan.
- If you will soon be eligible for Medicare.
- If you’re not eligible for Medicaid or a premium subsidy in the exchange, an ACA-compliant plan might be unaffordable.
Some examples of who are ineligible for premium subsidies:
- Those who earn more than 400% of the poverty level. (For 2021 and 2022, this income threshold has been eliminated; that may or may not be extended into future years.
- People caught in the ACA’s family glitch (note that the Biden administration is working on a fix for the family glitch, expected to be in place by 2023).
- People who cannot enroll in a plan through the exchange because they are not legally present in the United States. Lawfully present immigrants can enroll, and can qualify for premium subsidies. But undocumented immigrants cannot enroll in a plan through the exchange at all (they can, however, enroll in ACA-compliant coverage outside the exchange, but there are no subsidies available outside the exchange).