Every State Should Have STLD Healthcare Insurance Plans | Citizens Against Government Waste

Every State Should Have STLD Healthcare Insurance Plans

The WasteWatcher

There have been a chorus of calls for the Trump administration to reopen a special enrollment period for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, for the uninsured but as of today, the administration has decided not to do so.

If someone has lost their job or are uninsured, one of the best options is to take advantage of a short-term limited-duration healthcare (STLD) plan.  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) discussed these plans in an August 1, 2018 blog.  The Trump administration issued a rule in August 2018, which reversed the Obama administration’s restrictions on STLDs and greatly expanded their availability and use.  These insurance plans now provide coverage just under 12 months and can be extended up to 36 months.  Because they do not have to abide by Obamacare’s ten essential mandates, they are generally more affordable than an Obamacare exchange plan or COBRA coverage.  Enrollment can be quick and easy.

What a STLD plan covers will vary and insurers may charge more or not cover someone with pre-existing conditions.  According to e-Health, they offer more than 3,600 STLD plans from over 16 carriers.  Brian Blase of Blase Policy Strategies discusses in more detail the advantages of these plans and remarked that one company, Pivot Health, has seen a 165 percent increase in enrollment since the COVID-19 crisis began and almost 90 percent of enrollees were previously uninsured.   Unfortunately, some states do not allow STLD plans to be sold and others have placed limits on them.

There is also COBRA, created under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows employees to continue their employer’s health insurance coverage for 18 months after leaving employment.  If an employer with less than 20 employees has laid-off workers or terminated its health plan or has gone out of business, their state may have a “Mini-COBRA” option for some employees.  States that have implemented a mini-COBRA policy will have varying qualifications.

For people that have lost their employer coverage, enrolling in an ACA exchange is also an option.  Losing your employer insurance fits one of the qualifications for a Special Enrollment Period, which is outside of ACA’s usual enrollment period of November to mid-December.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have reopened or left their exchanges open for other reasons beyond the coronavirus crisis.  The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.  The states that have reopened may have different enrollment qualifications, for example Massachusetts and Washington will only allow those without coverage to enroll.  The states can do this because they run their own exchanges, unlike other states that depend on the federal exchange.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has said that the department will be using part of the $100 billion for hospitals that is in the emergency spending package passed at the end of March to pay for uninsured victims of the coronavirus.  The hospitals would be paid at Medicare rates and they could not balance bill.

These options should help people keep or get insurance during this difficult time.

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