Even with things like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place, insurance coverage in the US is a patchwork of plans that seem distributed willy nilly. This is why there are Short-Term Limited Duration (STLD) health insurance policies, which may help you where ACA does not. However, there is a risk that people living with HIV will be denied either coverage.
The main purpose of STLD is to provide temporary coverage to people with coverage gaps in their insurance. The policy is less expensive, but it is catered more to healthy individuals, has a limit to many of their benefits, and is medically underwritten.
Because the Trump administration wants to expand and lengthen the STLD plan — and because of the proposed budget cuts — the STLD plan’s future is in question, particularly for people living with HIV. The Henry J Kaiser family foundation did a survey in April 2018 to prove that the STDL plan is more likely to deny those with living with HIV than others.
Through agile.com, the Kaiser foundation looked at plans from areas where HIV is most widespread: Miami, FL, Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, Baltimore, MD, and Houston, TX. Kaiser applied for a total of 38 plans with the most and least expensive premiums available. In each case, the Kaiser foundation applied as a 35-year-old male and through agile.com there was a series of questionnaires during the application process.
According to their findings on kff.org, “In all 38 applications, when the HIV/AIDS question was answered affirmatively, the applicant was rejected from coverage. In some cases, this was explicit in the question wording; in others, the rejection was only provided afterward. By contrast, ACA-compliant policies are prohibited from engaging in medical underwriting, denying coverage on basis of health status, and imposing pre-existing condition exclusions.”
The Kaiser foundation also studied what would likely happen if someone with HIV was offered the STLD plan and had access to HIV care and treatment. “In most cases, we found that such access would be fairly limited. In addition, because STLD plans are non-renewable, an enrollee newly diagnosed with HIV while covered by a STLD plan would not be able to renew coverage at the end of the period, currently limited to three months.”
The only state to not offer drug coverage with their STLD plans on agile.com was Maryland, which has a three percent rate of people living with HIV — the lowest numbers among the survey states. And because drugs and medication are necessary in the treatment of HIV, making these STLD plans of no consequence to people living with HIV and cannot afford the costs.