Short-term health plans in Wyoming
- Wyoming defaults to federal guidelines on short-term health plans.
- That means short-term health insurance in Wyoming can have initial durations of up to 364 days and renewals up to 36 months.
- The state’s insurance commissioner warned consumers to carefully scrutinize plans.
- At least five insurers offer short-term health insurance in Wyoming.
Wyoming’s short-term health insurance regulations
There are no state-specific regulations for short-term health insurance in Wyoming, so the state defaults to the federal guidelines. Until October 2, 2018, federal regulations limited short-term plans to no more than three months in duration, and prohibited renewals. But the Trump Administration relaxed those rules (unless a state imposes its own restrictions) and Wyoming opted to go along with the new federal guidelines.
Short-term plans duration in Wyoming
Under the Trump administration’s short-term insurance rules, the plans can have initial durations of up to 364 days and renewals are permitted as long as the total duration of the coverage doesn’t exceed 36 months. The Wyoming Department of Insurance confirmed the new federal rules in a press release issued in August 2018.
Wyoming’s former Insurance Commissioner, Tom Glause, warned consumers to carefully scrutinize any plan they’re considering purchasing outside of HealthCare.gov. A press release issued in 2016 clarifies that “short-term plans set lifetime or yearly dollar limits, fail to pay for preventative health care, exclude many accidental injuries and care of pre-existing conditions.”
Which insurers offer short-term plans in Wyoming?
At least five insurance companies offer short-term healthcare coverage in Wyoming as of 2020:
- Aspen Insurance
- Everest Prime
- Golden Rule (UnitedHealthcare)
- Independence American Insurance Company
- National General
Some allow plans to have 364 days terms and renewals for a total duration of up to three years, while others limit their policy duration to shorter periods. Each insurer sets its own deductibles, benefit maximums, provider networks, coverage exclusions, and eligibility guidelines.
Who can get short-term health insurance in Wyoming?
Short-term health insurance in Wyoming can be purchased by applicants who can meet the insurance company’s underwriting guidelines. This generally means being under 65 years old (some insurers put the age limit at 64 years) and reasonably healthy.
Short-term health plans usually include blanket exclusions for pre-existing conditions, so they are not adequate for residents of the Cowboy State who need comprehensive medical care for ongoing health conditions. Short-term medical plans can also exclude entire categories of essential health benefits — it’s common to see short-term plans that don’t cover prescription drugs, maternity care, or mental health care. So it’s important to carefully read the plan descriptions and exclusions before purchasing a short-term health policy.
If you’re in need of health insurance coverage in Wyoming, first check if you qualify for a special enrollment period for an ACA-compliant major medical plan (ie, an Obamacare plan). There are many qualifying life events that will trigger a special enrollment period and allow you to buy a plan through Wyoming’s health insurance exchange/marketplace (HealthCare.gov) or directly from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming. BCBSWY is the only insurer that offers ACA-compliant individual/family major medical coverage in the state; their plans are available through the exchange and directly from the insurance company, although financial assistance (premium subsidies and cost-sharing reductions) is only available if you buy the plan through the exchange.
Marketplace 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 (with a premium subsidy if you’re eligible). So if you’ll soon be eligible for an employer-sponsored plan or Medicare, you can still sign up for a policy through the marketplace/exchange, and then cancel it when your other coverage starts.
When should I consider short-term health insurance in Wyoming?
There are times when short-term coverage might be the only realistic option, 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.
- You’re waiting for Medicare to start, or you’re newly employed and have a waiting period before your employer will provide health benefits. If you also have a qualifying event, you can instead choose to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan and cancel it when your new plan takes effect.
- If an existing plan is terminating mid-month, and a new plan doesn’t take effect until the start of the following month. In this case, a short-term plan can be used to cover the gap, although COBRA might be a better fall-back plan, depending on the circumstances (COBRA is retroactive if you sign up during the election period after it’s offered to you).
- If you’re not eligible for Medicaid or a premium subsidy in the exchange, the monthly premiums for an ACA-compliant plan might be too costly, especially in a state like Wyoming, where individual major medical coverage is much more expensive than the national average for people who don’t get premium subsidies.
People who are ineligible for premium subsidies include:
- Those who earn more than 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 snagged by the ACA’s family glitch.
- You’re caught in the coverage gap in Wyoming. This applies to people who earn less than the poverty level, but aren’t eligible for Medicaid because Wyoming has thus far refused to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
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.