Buying a short-term health plan in New Mexico
- New regulation limits short-term plans to three months, bans renewals, and prohibits sale to anyone who has had a short-term plan in the past 12 months.
- New Mexico lawmakers are considering legislation in 2019 to further regulate short-term plans.
- At least two insurers offer short-term plans in New Mexico.
New rule limits short-term plans to no more than three months in New Mexico
The Trump Administration began allowing short-term health insurance plans to be offered with extended durations as of October 2, 2018, unless a state had its own restrictions. At that point, New Mexico did not yet have its own limits on short-term plans. So for a few months, short-term plans with initial terms of up to a year were available for purchase in the state.
But in September 2018, the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance (OSI) and Health Action NM (an advocacy group for universal access to health care) presented details about potential state actions to stabilize the individual market. OSI has the authority to regulate some aspects of the plans, including maximum duration, but they noted that legislation would be needed for other changes, including minimum loss ratios and benefit mandates.
New Mexico’s insurance regulations were amended, effective February 1, 2019, to define short-term plans as nonrenewable, and with terms of no more than three months. The regulations also prohibit insurers from selling a short-term plan to anyone who has had short-term coverage within the previous 12 months.
The new rules took effect at the beginning of February 2019, but 12-month short-term plans were still for sale at various online brokerages as of mid-February. In other states that have implemented new restrictions on short-term plans, the administration and implementation of the rule are sometimes delayed. But current rules on the books in New Mexico do restrict short-term plans to three months in total duration and prevent people from being able to string together multiple short-term plans as a substitute for real health insurance.
Lawmakers are considering bill to expand state oversight for short-term plans
In January 2019, HB285 was introduced by Rep. Micaela Cadena (D, 33rd District) in an effort to much more closely regulate short-term plans in New Mexico. The legislation passed out of committee with unanimous support in February.
HB285 includes the same durational and sales limits that the state has already implemented via regulation, but it goes further than that. The legislation would also give OSI the authority to regulate a wide range of provisions related to short-term plans, including minimum loss ratios and minimum standards as far as benefits that would have to be covered by the plans.
Which insurers offer short-term plans in New Mexico?
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico
- National General
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.
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