Missouri Bill Would Expand Short-Term Health Plans

Published April 26, 2018

The Missouri state Senate Insurance and Banking Committee voted to approve a bill that would allow individuals to purchase renewable short-term health insurance plans lasting up to 364 days.

Currently, federal regulations limit short-term health insurance plans to three months. The state Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on House Bill 1685 (H.B. 1685), sponsored by state Rep. Justin Hill (R-Lake St. Louis). The House approved the bill in February.

Benefits for Young Adults

Charles Katebi, a state government relations manager with the Heartland Institute, which publishes Health Care News, says the bill would benefit younger individuals without dependents.

“Many men and women have no desire to have children, yet still must purchase a plan that covers pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care, as well as pediatric services which include oral and vision care,” Katebi said. “The law also requires everyone to purchase coverage for mental health or substance abuse treatments, even though millions of individuals have zero medical need for these services. As a result of these increasing premiums and deductibles, young people are finding it harder than ever to see their doctor.”

Advantages for Consumers

H.B. 1685 would give people more choice and flexibility in their health insurance, Hill says.

“Everyday people will be able to shop for affordable health insurance and not be forced to pay for coverages they would never need,” Hill said. “The cost would be dramatically cheaper, but the consumer will need to understand the policy better before they purchase it. There will be some exclusions in the policy. The ultimate result, however, would be downward pressure on premiums throughout the market, driven by competition and more options.”

Hill says the government should stop dictating people’s health care choices.

“The government should deregulate insurance and allow the consumer to drive the development of the market,” Hill said. “Insurance should be reserved for large claims only and not daily activities such as doctor office visits and check-ups.

“If insurance were reserved for large claims, the price of primary care would drastically decrease and networks would go away, providing more choices for consumers,” Hill said.