At some point in life, you might wind up uninsured. You may know it’s coming and have time to plan for it, or you may not. Either way, you’ll be on the hook to pay for healthcare.
That’s where short-term medical insurance comes in. Also known as short-term health insurance or temporary health insurance, this type of plan provides quick, temporary insurance coverage when you’re in between major medical policies.
But is a short-term health insurance plan the right choice for you?
Let’s look at answers to some common questions, including how temporary health insurance works, what it covers, when it makes sense, and why it differs from major medical insurance. Once you understand the basics, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision.
Short-term medical is temporary health insurance. It’s designed to be cost-effective and flexible during times of transition, allowing you to:
The Affordable Care Act doesn’t apply to short-term health insurance, which means it isn’t guaranteed issue and does not include all of the essential health benefits that major medical insurance (aka ACA plans) must include.
While short-term health insurance does not provide major medical coverage, it does have some similarities:
Like ACA plans, short-term plans typically include a deductible, coinsurance and copayment. They may or may not include a provider network.
Short-term health insurance generally covers high-dollar medical expenses related to injuries and unexpected illnesses. For example, plan benefits typically include things like hospital room and board, emergency care, and surgical services as opposed to preventive care, maternity, and treatment of pre-existing conditions.
Of course, not all short-term coverage is the same. Some may include benefits for a few basic preventive care services (e.g., Pap smears) or limited coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Bottom line: You’ll want to shop around to see what short-term plan best suits your needs.
The amount you'll pay for short-term health insurance coverage depends on the plan you select. Short-term plans come with less benefits than a comprehensive major medical plan, so they could cost less.
As with any type of health insurance, you can generally expect to pay a lower premium for a plan with a higher deductible and limited benefits and vice versa. Adding a spouse and dependents will also increase your cost.
Short-term plans are not eligible for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions. If you qualify for these ACA subsidies, then you’ll probably want to enroll in an ACA plan through a state or federal exchange. You can use an online subsidy calculator to see if you might qualify.
Short-term health insurance and major medical insurance are different products designed to serve different needs. It’s not a true apples to apples comparison. At a high level, here’s what to know about each product:
The decision ultimately depends on how long you need coverage, your typical healthcare needs and your financial situation.
Short-term health insurance coverage isn’t available to everyone. Applicants can be denied based on health history, and plans aren’t sold in every state. These types of plans also may not be a fit if you qualify for an ACA subsidy, have pre-existing conditions, want all of the essential health benefits (e.g., preventive care, maternity), or expect to need long-term coverage.
Generally speaking, temporary health insurance tends to be a fit for healthy people who are:
Short-term health insurance isn’t sold through the state and federal ACA exchanges, but it’s easy to find online. [Hint, hint: You’ve come to the right place.]
The application and enrollment process is fairly straightforward:
Get plan quotes. Start here to find and compare plans. Enter some basic information, including your date of birth and ZIP code, to see what plans are available to you and how much they cost.
Compare your options. As you narrow your options, you’ll want to consider the following:
If you don’t qualify for a short-term plan, you may want to look into other options such as an ACA plan or Medicaid.
Still not sure what’s right for you? Call one of our licensed agents to talk through your options: (855) 651-5094.
Healthinsurance.com LLC is a commercial site designed for the solicitation of insurance from selected health insurance carriers. It is not an insurer, an insurance agency, or a medical provider. You may obtain a complete list of available Medicare plans by contacting 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
This site is not maintained by or affiliated with the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace website or any state government health insurance marketplace.