Compare Short Term Health Insurance Plans

Required information for accurate health plan quotes

Compare Short Term Health Insurance Plans

What is short term health insurance?

Short term health insurance, also known as temporary health insurance, is a medical plan that can provide individuals and families healthcare coverage for a set period of time, typically from just 30 days up to 364 days of coverage, depending on individual state rules. Having a similar plan makeup as permanent individual health insurance, short term health insurance is structured to cover doctor office visits, hospitalization, emergency room care, and select lab tests. (Permanent, individual health insurance is also known as an Obamacare plan and sold on the federal or state marketplaces). Short term plans also have familiar permanent insurance terms like monthly premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums ;terms you would find on an Obamacare plan. An important and differentiating benefit on many short term health insurance plans is an open network, which is an all-access pass to see any doctor or hospital, not forcing you into a narrow, pre-dictated network of providers which can be common with Obamacare plans.

Why is short term medical insurance so much less expensive than Obamacare?

Most consumers are surprised when they learn that temporary health insurance costs nearly half the price of an Obamacare plan. Short term health insurance plans are less expensive because they exclude certain benefits such as maternity coverage and ongoing mental health coverage. Because of this, temporary health insurance plans do not meet the minimum benefit requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and do not cover consumers with health conditions that existed prior to purchasing the plan. This is why temporary, short term plans, cost 50% or less since consumers are not paying for full, permanent insurance. Short term health plans are meant for the “right now.”

What should I do if I am not eligible for a short term plan?

It is very easy to find out if you are eligible for short term health insurance, and the vast majority of consumers who apply for short term coverage are accepted for coverage. Short term health insurance applications generally have five to seven medical “knock-out” questions that determine eligibility, so it will take a minute or two to review and answer those questions. Insurance companies have different application requirements, so we recommend calling to speak with a licensed health insurance agent if you have questions regarding your eligibility.

How short term health insurance works

To buy a short term health insurance plan online, it’s important to first research and compare your options. Some health insurance marketers offer a variety of plans so do your analysis carefully. Things you might want to think about when looking for a short term medical plan include:

  • Doctor office copays: Are doctors office visits important to you?
  • Urgent Care copays: Do you have children and anticipate visiting an Urgent Care clinic during your coverage period?
  • Prescription drug benefits: Are you currently on medication?
  • Student-athlete accident benefits: If insuring a college student, do they play sports during the school year and might need extra protection beyond short term health insurance that does not cover intercollegiate or interscholastic sports?
  • Physical therapy benefits: Do you anticipate needing therapy in the future?
  • Preventive care or wellness benefits: Is it important to be able to see a doctor for a wellness check at least once a year?

Not all short term health plans offer one or all of these benefits, so shop wisely. Figure out what is most important to your health and wellbeing and then compare plans. Many websites have filter options so you can search for plans based on the monthly cost, deductible, insurance company and more. Using filters can help narrow down what you can afford and what type of coverage you need.

Open Network vs. PPO Plans

Some short term health plans have an all-access policy, meaning, you can see any doctor you wish because your medical claims are paid based on a percentage of Medicare’s scale for provider reimbursement. What this means is, if you visit a doctor, they would send in a claim to the plan’s administrator for payment. The administrator would, in turn, send the provider a fixed dollar amount based on Medicare’s payment scale to pay for the medical services incurred. This allows you to continue seeing your current doctor. To avoid any balance billing, you should confirm that the percentage of Medicare will be sufficient to pay the bill.

If the short term health plan has a PPO network, that means you have to find a doctor in the network so your medical claims are billed at the in-network price. You can typically go outside of the network, but there is no guarantee that the administrator would pay for your medical bill since you didn’t stay in-network (it will vary by plan). Some individuals like the assurance of having their medical bills paid by seeing in-network doctors. It all comes down to personal preference.


If you decide to purchase a temporary health insurance plan after completing your comparison shopping, you will need to fill out an application for coverage. There are a few steps to getting approved.

Medical Questions

Health insurance companies are allowed to ask you medical questions when you apply for a short term health plan. The questions are asked to make sure you are the right candidate for this type of insurance. You will be asked if you have been denied insurance in the past due to a health condition. You will be asked if you have been advised by a doctor to have medical tests done and have not acted yet. You could also be asked if you have had specific medical issues in the past, such as cancer or hepatitis (as an example). The questions vary from company to company, but there are typically a handful of questions to answer before you can proceed with your application.

Coverage Durations

Depending on your state of residence, short term health insurance coverage durations can vary from a maximum of 90 days up to 364 days. Some states even let you enroll for up to nearly three years in a row (essentially three 364-day policies). How much temporary coverage do you need? Plan to be asked how long you need the temporary insurance coverage. The good news - if you are uninsured and sign up for 30 days of coverage, confident you will have a new job before the month is out, and your plans fall through, you can enroll in another policy. If you sign up for six-months of coverage but don’t need the coverage after month four, you can cancel your coverage anytime and won’t have to pay for all six months. Short term health insurance is flexible and can fit many different coverage needs.

Who short term health insurance is good for

Short term medical insurance can be an alternative solution for nearly anyone who has a temporary health insurance need to fill. Just a few types of life situations that can warrant a short-term health plan are:

  • Uninsured due to job loss
  • A more affordable alternative to COBRA
  • 60-90 day waiting period with new employer
  • Aging off parents health plan at 26 years
  • Early retirees who don’t yet qualify for Medicare
  • College students needing coverage during the school year
  • College graduates who don’t yet have a job
  • Life situation changes (marriage or divorce)
  • Entrepreneurs starting their own business
  • Small business owners who purchase their own insurance
  • People who do not qualify for the ACA Special Enrollment period

When can I enroll in a short term health insurance plan?

If you suddenly find yourself without health insurance, short term medical plans can be a solid solution, especially if you are outside of the ACA Open Enrollment period, which generally runs from November 1 to December 15 every year. If you become uninsured during the six-weeks of Open Enrollment, you should look at an ACA plan first. But if you are like most who become uninsured outside of the Open Enrollment period and don’t qualify for Special Enrollment period, temporary health insurance can get you covered the next day and stay with you through the coverage duration allowed or until you find another permanent healthcare solution.

What are additional differences between short term medical insurance and Obamacare (ACA plans)?

There are many structural similarities between temporary health insurance and Obamacare plans, but there are also many benefit differences. Here are a few to highlight:

  1. Short term health insurance plans are not required to meet the essential standards of Obamacare plans, which means short term medical plans are not required to cover the 10 essential benefits that all ACA plans must include. These benefits include things like maternity care, rehabilitation, substance abuse and more. Longer-term benefits typically are not needed when someone is only enrolling in a temporary plan for a few months, which is why many of these services are not included in short term coverage.
  2. Short term medical insurance can cost at least 50% less than Obamacare (ACA) plans. Depending on age and state of residence, some temporary health insurance plans can range up to 80% less. Why? It is because the coverage timeframe on temporary health plans is limited, and essential benefits are not required to be covered. Price differences apply to the ACA marketplace as well. Bronze plans only are required to pay for 60% of average medical services up to the max out of pocket limit, whereas Gold plans cover 80%. You pay less for Bronze than you do for Gold because of more cost shares like deductibles.(But still, individuals with major health conditions are advised to seek permanent health insurance through the ACA marketplaces.)
  3. You can get coverage in a short term health insurance plan as soon as the next day. Applying for an Obamacare plan can take days or weeks. You must prove your total household income and complete a much larger application. Plus, even if you enroll in an ACA plan during the Open Enrollment period, you have to wait 30 to 45 days for coverage to start. Short term health insurance in many cases offers coverage as early as the next day.
  4. Short term health insurance isn’t available in every state, but ACA plans are.

Don’t forget the extras

If you plan to have a short term health insurance plan for more than a month, you might want to consider other health insurance policies to round out your healthcare package of benefits. Many companies offer dental insurance or hospital indemnity insurance as supplements to short term medical coverage. Plans that cover other areas of the healthcare system could be good to have should an unexpected situation play out.

Short term medical insurance can be the right coverage at the right time

Temporary health insurance plans for the short term are not a bad thing. If you lose your health insurance coverage due to job loss, you have a limited income on top of being uninsured. Short term health coverage can provide some comfort during a stressful time, whether it’s unemployment, early retirement or not being able to access the Obamacare marketplace due to timing. Going without health insurance coverage is a financial risk. Being able to get affordable coverage when you need it the most is something that most can get behind.

Learn More About Short Term Insurance

  • is cobra my only option article with cobra health insurance alternatives. Image of white shirt with red tie and white shirts with blue ties.
    Losing a job is hard enough. But losing health insurance benefits makes it even harder. That's why the United States Congress passed the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) in 1985 to help employees continue their health insurance coverage until they find another job with suitable coverage. So if you lose a job that provided health insurance benefits, you'll likely receive a COBRA enrollment notice that includes information and pricing to continue health insurance. You’ll then have 60 days to choose whether or not you want to continue your coverage through COBRA. However, as most terminated employees can attest: COBRA is expensive. But why the high cost? In most cases, your employer covers a portion of your health insurance premium each month, leaving you to cover the remaining amount. But with COBRA, your former employer will no longer cover their portion of the cost of the plan, while adding a 2% admin fee each month. As a result, COBRA's cost is often more than double the cost of what you paid for health insurance while employed - especially with the additional admin free. And many people are left with the misconception that there aren’t other options beyond COBRA, which is certainly not the case. What are my options beyond COBRA coverage? Many people realize they can’t afford COBRA after losing a job. So the first thing to know is that you always have a choice: There are a variety of options outside of COBRA. An ACA or “Obamacare” plan is one option that offers major medical coverage, but you may find that plan costs are still too expensive. Also, you can only enroll in an ACA plan within a certain window of time, usually during open enrollment periods or 60 days after losing your insurance at your previous job. If you miss the ACA enrollment window, that’s when short-term health insurance - or temporary health insurance - comes into play. For many, it's a viable option that provides many major medical benefits with flexible coverage options at affordable rates. Choosing a short-term health insurance plan makes sense if you don't have a chronic health condition and know that your loss of employment is only temporary. But overall, affordability is typically the top reason to choose a short-term health insurance plan. But health insurance is not a one-size-fits-all deal so shopping around for the right coverage - and being an educated consumer while doing so - is important. Why choose short-term health insurance? Short-term health insurance plans offer several popular aspects, starting with quick, simple enrollment any time of year, with coverage beginning as early as the day after enrollment. Other benefits include: A wide range of deductible options A flexible length of coverage (from one month to 364 days), with policy renewal of up to three years (depending on your state’s rules) Choice in selecting your health care providers Coverage for emergency room visits, hospitalization, and lab services No penalties for dropping or changing coverage Why is short-term health insurance less expensive? While the cost savings are different for everyone, short-term health insurance rates tend to be considerably more affordable. For starters, most short-term health insurance plans don't cover pre-existing conditions, keeping your coverage costs low. But this also means that short-term health insurance plans may not be the best option if you have a chronic condition that requires regular visits to the doctor. Additionally, short-term health insurance plans aren’t required to cover 10 essential health benefits like ACA plans do. As examples: No short-term insurance plans cover maternity care, and none cover someone who is already pregnant. Few short-term insurance plans cover mental health or substance abuse programs. Few short-term insurance plans cover prescription medications. Will I face a tax penalty if I choose a short-term medical plan? The ACA legislation originally required taxpayers to obtain a Qualified Health Plan or face a penalty, but the penalty was changed to zero starting in 2019 (some states like California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have mandate laws). Before this change, the minimum penalties for not choosing such a plan were $695 for adults and $347.50 for children, with the total tax penalty of up to $2,085 for a family per year. However, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the penalty aspect of the Individual Mandate was changed. How do I shop for health insurance plans? It's no secret that health insurance policies can be confusing, and there are far more options today than there were a decade ago. As with any product or service, it's best to shop around to know what's best for your specific situation. You can quickly learn which health insurance plans are available in your area and the details around each by contacting a licensed agent. Here are six tips to help you shop for the right health insurance plan: Know your budget and what you can afford each month. Make a list of your current health conditions and medications. List any doctors you want to maintain, even for minor ailments. List any other providers (i.e. specialty doctors, hospitals, clinics) you prefer to use. Determine if you need dental and vision coverage. Think ahead to medical procedures that you'd like to schedule (if any). Above all: Know that choosing the best health plan for you and your family is not an impossible task. A licensed insurance professional can look up your favorite doctors and facilities to ensure that they accept the plan that you choose. He or she can also check what you'd pay out of pocket for things like medications, copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. Get a short-term medical plan quote in minutes Our licensed health insurance agents are available to discuss your specific situation to find the right plan for you. Our agents can help you compare plans in your area, so that you can make an informed decision in a matter of minutes. This will save your hours of research to help you find the policy that meets your individual needs. Getting in touch with an agent can save you time and money in your search for the right plan. And if you determine that a short-term medical insurance plan is the right fit for you, you can apply today and have coverage as early as tomorrow. Get a quote today.
    Read More »
  • get health insurance now coverage options major medical, short term health insurance
    If you suddenly become uninsured, you probably want to find and enroll in new health insurance immediately. After all, life keeps happening. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get covered as soon as possible. Whether you are without health insurance due to job loss, aging off a parent’s plan, early retirement, or other circumstances, there’s an option available to you.
    Read More »
  • 4 affordable health insurance options if you're unemployed
    Whether you're unemployed or a part of our nation of job-hoppers, you’ll probably wind up with short gaps in employment. This means you’ll need to find health insurance while you’re between jobs. Money is often tight during such times. So what choices do you have when you need health insurance and have no income? The answer may surprise you. In addition to COBRA, which allows continued coverage under your existing group benefits, options may include short-term health insurance, individual major medical insurance (also known as an ACA plan or Obamacare), and Medicaid. What you choose will depend on a few factors, including your circumstances, how long you need benefits, what coverage you qualify for, your budget, and your healthcare needs. Let’s take a closer look at each of the four affordable options to see how they differ and why you might pick one over another. 1. COBRA to continue existing coverage COBRA, which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, allows you and your family to temporarily continue group health coverage when you would otherwise lose it. You retain the same benefits and provider networks you already have when you elect COBRA. To qualify for COBRA, you must be enrolled in your employer’s health plan and experience a qualifying event that would cause you to otherwise lose that coverage. Qualifying events for covered employees include: Termination of employment for any reason other than gross misconduct. Reduction in the number of hours of employment. There are additional qualifying events for the spouse and dependent children of covered employees. This option tends to be a fit for those who want to keep the coverage they already have, regardless of cost. Some reasons you might prefer to elect COBRA include having met or paid into your plan deductible for the year, wanting to continue care through your existing in-network healthcare providers, or not wanting to switch plans because you like the one you have. You want to look into COBRA alternatives if you can’t afford the premiums or will be moving out of your plan network after becoming unemployed. Cost: Typically your full premium (including any portion your employer covered) plus a 2% administrative fee. The amount cannot exceed 102%. Enrollment: To elect COBRA, you have at least 60 days from either the date you were provided with your COBRA election notice or the date you would lose coverage, whichever is later. Coverage length: 18 or 36 months depending on the qualifying event and extending from the date it occurred. Under some circumstances, coverage may be extended if a second qualifying event occurs. COBRA coverage may be terminated early if your premiums aren’t paid in a timely manner, your employer discontinues the group health plan, or you begin new coverage through another group health plan, to name a few reasons. 2. Short-term health insurance for temporary benefits When you’re unemployed and can’t afford COBRA premiums, you may want to consider short term health insurance as an alternative. These plans are designed for temporary situations, and the benefits they include reflect that purpose. Short-term medical insurance is more limited than group or individual major medical insurance. It helps pay for covered medical expenses related to injuries and sudden illnesses. Most short-term coverage includes benefits for doctor office visits, hospitalization, and emergency care. Plans vary, of course, and some have benefits for a few basic preventive screenings or extra non-insurance benefits for dental and vision care. Short-term plans don’t include all of the 10 essential health benefits (e.g., maternity) and preventive services required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and aren’t likely to cover pre-existing conditions. As such, premiums tend to be lower than COBRA and individual major medical premiums—you aren’t getting the same level of coverage. That said, trimmed down benefits for unexpected healthcare along with potentially leaner premium rates can make short-term insurance an attractive option when you know your unemployment will be brief or you’ve already started your next job and are still in your new employer’s waiting period for benefits. Short-term health insurance tends to be a better fit for those in relatively good health. Why? Again, your policy won’t likely cover pre-existing conditions. Plus, not everyone qualifies for a short-term policy. Unlike group and individual major medical insurance, short-term medical insurance is not guaranteed issue. When you apply for coverage, you’ll need to answer a few health-related questions to determine your eligibility, and your application could be denied based on your health history. Cost: Typically less than COBRA and individual major medical insurance (i.e., ACA plans, Obamacare plans) sold through the state and federal health insurance exchanges as well as in the private market. Enrollment: Year-round. Learn within minutes whether or not your application has been approved. If approved, you can begin coverage as soon as the next day. Coverage length: 30 to 364 days—policy length varies by state. You choose your policy length when you apply and, if your application is approved, enroll in short-term coverage. If your policy ends and you need more coverage, you may be able to apply for a new policy—the ability to apply for subsequent policies also varies by state. 3. Major medical insurance for long-term gaps between jobs If COBRA costs feel too steep and short-term benefits feel too lean, you may want to look into individual major medical insurance. These plans are colloquially known as ACA or Obamacare plans. They will likely cost you less than COBRA, especially if you qualify for a subsidy, and they will more closely resemble your job-based coverage than a short-term plan does. Major medical insurance fulfills ACA requirements for minimum essential coverage, meaning it includes all of the 10 essential health benefits as well as specified no-cost preventive services. That’s why unsubsidized premiums will, for the most part, be higher than short-term plan premiums—with an ACA plan, you are gaining access to more comprehensive benefits. However, if you qualify for subsidies, an ACA plan will likely cost you less than COBRA and short-term coverage. In that case, you should probably choose an ACA plan to obtain the most coverage for your dollar. This option tends to be a better fit for those who: Don’t know how long they’ll be unemployed. Have healthcare concerns that require ongoing care or prescription medications. Want a full range of benefits from preventive to emergency care. Find COBRA premiums too expensive. Won’t qualify for Medicaid. Major medical insurance is guaranteed issue. You can’t be denied coverage based on your health history. For the most part, anyone who lives in the United States, is a U.S. citizen or legal resident, is not incarcerated, and is not enrolled in Medicare will automatically qualify. Cost: ACA premiums vary based on five factors—your age, location, tobacco use, individual or family enrollment, and plan category selected. Subsidies can also have an impact on the cost of coverage and care. Premium tax credits help reduce what you pay for coverage each month, and cost-sharing reductions for silver plans will help lower your out-of-pocket cost-sharing responsibility (i.e., deductible, coinsurance, copay amounts). Subsidies are based on income. You also have to buy coverage through a state or federal exchange to qualify. Enrollment: Annual open enrollment typically runs from November 1 through December 15 (though it may vary for some state-based exchanges). Outside of this time, you must experience a qualifying life event for a special enrollment period; qualifying life events include losing job-based benefits, moving, and changes to your family. Coverage length: The entire calendar year, as long as you continue to pay your premiums. During open enrollment, you can renew your plan (your deductible will reset on January 1). 4. Medicaid coverage for when you have no income If you are unemployed and have no source of income, it’s possible you’ll qualify for Medicaid plan that provides health coverage to millions of Americans. Medicaid programs vary by state—each state designs and runs its own program based on federal guidelines. However, Medicaid in every state fulfills the ACA’s minimum essential coverage requirements. Each state program includes benefits mandatory under federal law (e.g., hospital services, laboratory and X-ray services, physician services) and possibly optional benefits such as prescription drug coverage and physical therapy. Anyone whose household income is below 138% of the federal poverty level in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will qualify. If you live in a state that didn’t expand its Medicaid program, you’ll need to meet other eligibility criteria set by your state. Populations often covered by Medicaid include low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. Cost: Anywhere from nothing to a few dollars per month, depending on your state. Enrollment:Year-round. Your coverage may begin on the date of application or the first of the month after your application is approved. If you were eligible before you applied, you may also be covered retroactively up to three months prior to your month of application. Coverage length: Month to month as long as you qualify. You may be asked to verify your eligibility. What’s the best health insurance if you’re unemployed? In addition to COBRA and the alternatives listed above, you may have other ways to obtain coverage while you’re between jobs. For example, you might have access to health insurance through your spouse’s job-based plan or even a parent’s plan if you are under age 26. There isn’t one single option that’s considered right for everyone.Your decision ultimately comes down to cost and covered medical expenses. What can you afford? What level of benefits do you need and feel comfortable with? You may want to start by looking into each option more closely. Find out what COBRA will cost you. Gather quotes for a few short-term and major medical plans. See if you might qualify for an ACA subsidy or Medicaid. If you have questions or need help understanding your options along the way, there are many resources available. You may want to contact your employer’s human resources department, the customer service team for an insurer whose plan you’re considering, a helper through your state or federal health insurance exchange, or a licensed health insurance agent.
    Read More »

See More Articles