Frequently asked questions about short-term health insurance in Nebraska
Yes. As of 2020, there were at least nine insurers offering short-term health insurance in Nebraska.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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).
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.