A 2018 federal rule changing the definition of short-term health plans has created a new marketing opportunity for insurance companies. A short-term plan can now be sold as a substitute for traditional insurance even though it is exempt from the consumer protections prescribed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
This study assesses short-term plan insurers’ marketing tactics in the wake of the new federal rules and how regulators have prepared for this new market. Findings from a marketing scan suggest that consumers shopping online for health insurance are most often directed to websites and brokers selling short-term plans. Marketing websites and brokers selling these plans over the phone provide limited information on benefits and limits and push consumers to make purchasing decisions quickly. Due to limits in state consumer protection authority and resources, violations of marketing standards will primarily be enforced retroactively, after insurance regulators receive complaints.