Frequently asked questions about
short-term health insurance in Missouri
Yes. As of 2023, there were at least 11 insurers offering short-term health insurance in Missouri.
Until October 2018, federal rules limited short-term health insurance plan duration to no more than three months, and prohibited renewals. But the Trump administration changed the rules to allow much longer short-term plans, unless states have their own restrictions.
At that point, Missouri regulations limited short-term healthcare plans to no more than six months in duration. But the state did not limit the renewability of short-term plans.
The Trump Administration’s rules for short-term plans are clear in noting that states may continue to impose tighter regulations than the new federal rules. So short-term health insurance plans in Missouri were still limited to a maximum initial term of six months, despite the fact that the federal government would allow the plans to have initial terms of up to 364 days.
However, the Missouri Department of Insurance confirmed that the state did not limit renewals, and defaulted to the federal rules for the total duration (including renewal periods) of a short-term plan. So an insurer could offer a plan that could be renewed for up to 36 months (the limit in the federal rules), as long as each term wasn’t more than six months.
Lawmakers in Missouri considered HB1685 in 2018, which would have defined short-term healthcare coverage as a policy with a duration of less than one year. The House passed the measure, but it didn’t reach a full vote on the Senate floor before the session adjourned.
But in 2021, Missouri enacted HB604, which changed the definition of a short-term plan to one with a term of 12 months or less. So short-term plans in Missouri can now follow federal rules: They can have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months.
Insurers can still choose to offer plans with shorter terms, or to offer plans without the option to renew the coverage.
As of 2023, there were at least 11 insurance companies that provided short-term health insurance policies in Missouri:
- Allstate Health Solutions (National General)
- Anthem Enhanced Choice
- Blue KC (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City)
- Companion Life
- Cox Health Systems
- Everest Reinsurance
- The North River Insurance Company
- Pan-American Life Insurance Company
- Standard Life/American National
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule)
- United States Fire Insurance Company
The benefits and coverage specifics vary from one insurer to another, as does the availability of renewals. Because there are fewer restrictions on short-term plans, insurers have more leeway in their plan designs. This results in a lot of coverage options, but it’s important to carefully read the policy descriptions for any plans you’re considering, to make sure you understand what is and isn’t covered.
Short-term health insurance in Missouri can be purchased by applicants who pass the underwriting guidelines the insurers use. This typically means being under 65 years old (some insurers put the age limit at 64 years) and in fairly good health.
Short-term health insurance policies typically include blanket exclusions for any pre-existing condition that the applicant may have, so they are not adequate for residents of the “Show Me State” who need certain medical care for long term or ongoing conditions.
If you’re in need of health insurance coverage in Missouri, your first step should be to see whether you’re eligible to enroll in an ACA-compliant major medical plan (ie, an Obamacare plan). Open enrollment for these plans runs from November 1 to January 15 each year, with coverage effective January 1 or February 1, depending on when you enroll (this enrollment window applies in Missouri’s marketplace/exchange and also outside the exchange).
You may be able to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan outside the open enrollment period, if you experience a qualifying event that triggers a special enrollment period.
ACA-compliant plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, so you can enroll in one even if you’re only going to need it for a few months before another policy takes effect. And depending on your income, you may qualify for a premium subsidy (premium tax credit) that will make the monthly premiums much less costly than you may have been expecting.
But if you’re not able to enroll in an employer-sponsored plan or an ACA-compliant plan, or you just cannot afford the premiums, a short-term plan will likely be a better option than remaining uninsured, despite its limitations. And even though there are no premium subsidies for short-term health insurance plans, the monthly premiums tend to be quite affordable, due to the plan limitations and the use of medical underwriting.
These are times when you may need to consider a short-term health insurance plan:
- You missed open enrollment for ACA-compliant coverage and do not have a qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period.
- You’re newly employed and will soon be covered by your employer’s health plan, but they have a waiting period of up to three months before you’re eligible for coverage.
- You’ll soon be enrolled in Medicare, but do not have any other coverage options in the meantime. If your Medicare won’t take effect until after the start of the coming year, you can enroll in an ACA-compliant health plan during the autumn open enrollment period (November 1 – January 15) and then cancel it when your Medicare coverage takes effect.
- You’ve already enrolled in an ACA-compliant plan, but have to wait up to several weeks before it takes effect. You can use a short-term plan to bridge the gap until your new coverage is in force.
- You’re not eligible for Medicaid or a premium subsidy for marketplace coverage, making an ACA-compliant plan unaffordable. This includes people who aren’t lawfully present in the U.S. and thus are not able to enroll in a plan through the exchange/marketplace at all.