Short-term health plans in Nebraska
- Short-term health insurance in Nebraska is limited by state law to policies under 12 months, but the state allows the plans to remain in effect for up to three years, including renewals.
- Federal law allows for 364-day initial terms, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months, in states that allow it.
- Short-term plans must be filed with the state and comply with state mandates.
- Short-term health insurance sellers must include a comparison of their benefits versus an ACA-compliant plan.
- The Nebraska Department of Insurance has warned consumers about high-pressure sales tactics used by some short-term plans.
- At least nine insurers offer short-term health insurance in Nebraska.
Short-term plans duration in Nebraska
State statute (44-787) defines short-term health insurance in Nebraska as a policy lasting less than 12 months. Federal regulations that took effect in 2017 limited short-term plans to no more than three months, and prohibited their renewal. But that changed under Trump administration’s rules that took effect in late 2018, allowing short-term plans to have initial terms up to 364 days (ie, the same as Nebraska’s existing law), and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months.
Nebraska’s short-term health insurance regulations
The current federal rules for short-term health plans were finalized in early August 2018. In late August, the Nebraska Department of Insurance noted that they had temporarily placed short-term insurer filings on hold, while they reviewed the new federal rule.
In September 2018, the Nebraska Department of Insurance published a bulletin clarifying that while the state would allow short-term plans to follow the federal guidelines in terms of the length of the initial term and the total allowable duration of the plan, the state was also imposing a variety of other requirements for short-term plans. Notably, short-term plans in Nebraska are required to:
- Provide a clear comparison of how the benefits in the short-term plan compare with the benefits required by an ACA-compliant individual market plan. The Department suggests that a comparison chart is a good way to go about this, and notes that examples of benefits that would need to be compared are “annual and lifetime limits, maternity coverage, mental health benefits, pre-existing condition restrictions, and pharmacy benefits.”
- Clearly state whether the plan can be renewed, how to go about renewing it, and how much it will cost to renew it.
- Clearly state any annual or lifetime limits that apply to the policy.
- Provide a 10-day free look period, as required under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 44-710.18.
- Disclose the details of the plan’s provider network, including maintaining an up-to-date website that shows all of the currently contracted network providers.
- Nebraska Revised Statute 44-710.03 and 44-710.04 are applicable to short-term health plans.
The Nebraska Department of Insurance had previously published a consumer alert in October 2016, warning residents to beware of “high-pressure telemarketers selling short-term health insurance products that are not compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) despite their promises.”
Short-term health insurance plans in Nebraska must be filed with the Nebraska Department of Insurance (via SERFF), must cover state-mandated benefits, and must comply with the state’s internal and external appeal requirements.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Nebraska?
Several insurance companies offer short-term health plans in Nebraska as of 2020:
- Aspen Insurance
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska (Armor Health; a new product available as of 2020)
- Companion Life
- Golden Rule (UnitedHealthcare)
- Independence American Insurance Company
- Medica (only for Farm Bureau members)
- National General
- United Security Health and Casualty Insurance Company
These insurers have different underwriting rules, benefits, and policy durations. Carefully compare the details of any plans you’re considering, to make sure you understand the coverage and limitations.
Who can buy short-term health insurance in Nebraska?
Short-term health insurance in Nebraska 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, so they are not adequate for residents of the Cornhusker State who need certain medical care and seeking a short-term policy that will cover those needs.
If you’re in need of health insurance coverage in Nebraska, first check to see if you’re eligible to enroll in an ACA-compliant major medical plan. These plans are available through the Nebraska exchange/marketplace or directly from an insurance company. Open enrollment for ACA-compliant plans runs from November 1 – December 15 each year. Outside of that window, you may still be able to enroll, if you experience a qualifying event that triggers a special enrollment period. And if you have an eligible household income, you may be able to get a premium subsidy that would make your coverage much less costly than you might have expected — perhaps even less expensive than a short-term health plan.
ACA-compliant plans are purchased on a month-to-month basis, so you can enroll in coverage even for only a few months until another policy takes effect. So if you’ll soon be enrolled in Medicare or an employer’s plan, for example, you can sign up for an ACA-compliant plan during open enrollment or a special enrollment period, and then schedule it to end when your new coverage takes effect.
When should I consider short-term health insurance in Nebraska ?
In your life there may be times when a short-term health insurance plan is the only realistic option, for example:
- 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’re newly employed and have to wait up to three months before you can enroll in your employer’s health plan.
- If you’ll soon be enrolling in Medicare and have no other coverage options in the meantime.
- If you’ve already enrolled in an ACA-compliant plan but have to wait up to several weeks before the plan takes effect (ie, until January 1 if you’re enrolling during open enrollment, or until the first of the following month or the second following month if you’re enrolling during a special enrollment period).
- If you’re not eligible for Medicaid or a premium subsidy in the exchange for an ACA-compliant plan. People ineligible for premium subsidies include:
- Cornhuskers who earn over 400% of the poverty level. (For 2021 coverage, that amounts to $51,040 for a single person. If your ACA-specific modified adjusted gross income is just a little above the subsidy-eligible threshold, there are steps you can take to reduce it).
- People stuck in the ACA’s family glitch.
- People who aren’t lawfully present in the US and thus are not eligible to enroll in a plan through the exchange (premium subsidies are only available in the exchange, and you have to be a lawfully present US resident in order to enroll through the exchange).
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.