Standard Health Questionnaire

Do I have to take the SHQ when I apply for individual health insurance?

Not anymore! As of January 1, 2014 the SHQ is no longer used. Under health care reform, health insurance companies can no longer ask questions about your health status or deny coverage if you are sick. They also cannot impose pre-existing condition waiting periods for plans that begin on or after January 1, 2014.

How the SHQ was used

Prior to January 1, 2014, the Standard Health Questionnaire (SHQ) (www.wship.org) (PDF, 747KB) was part of the application you received when you applied to buy individual health insurance in Washington state. Insurers used the SHQ to determine if you qualified for coverage.

The SHQ is a list of health conditions and each condition has a score value. You can look up your score (www.wship.org) (PDF, 35KB).

When you filled out the SHQ, you would have marked "yes" beside any health conditions you had. 

After you turned in your application, the insurance company added up your "yes" responses to get your score. If your score was:

  • 324 or below, the company gave you insurance.
  • 325 or above, the company could deny you coverage and tell you about other health insurance options.

Who had to take the SHQ?

Before January 1, 2014, you had to take the SHQ if you applied for individual health insurance, unless you qualified for an exemption. Page 2 of the SHQ (www.wship.org) (PDF, 163KB) lists the exemptions.

If you qualifed for an exemption (about 25 percent of people qualify) then you didn't have to complete the health questionnaire. The insurance company would have asked you for information to prove you qualify for the exemption.

Updated 03/27/2014

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