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Short-Term Health Insurance Plans

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Short-Term Health Insurance

What Is Short-Term Health Insurance?

Short-term health insurance sometimes called temporary or term health insurance helps fill in the gaps in your coverage, which helps keep you protected. Short-term medical plans are not right for everyone since they provide fewer benefits than most traditional policies. However, in certain circumstances, these plans can be both beneficial and cost-effective. They are also a great option if you are in a bind, and looking for same day health insurance options.

When To Consider Temporary Coverage

Short-term plans are called temporary for a reason. They don’t provide the comprehensive health coverage you may be looking for, but can definitely come in handy. For example, many people turn to temporary health insurance between jobs and use it as a way to keep themselves, and their families protected in the event of a medical emergency. Here are popular situations in which you definitely want to consider a term health insurance plan:

  • You lost your job and your employer-sponsored health coverage.
  • You have enrolled in a health insurance plan but are currently in your waiting period, and your coverage hasn’t kicked in yet.
  • You missed out on signing up for health insurance through the marketplace during the Open Enrollment Period but haven’t had a qualifying life event.
  • You are looking to enroll in same day health insurance for yourself or your family.
  • If you are in good health, and other health insurance options are out of your price range.

As you can see from the above scenarios, most people turn to these options as a last resort. Unless any of the above situations apply to you, it may be a better idea to explore more traditional health insurance plans.

Here’s How It Works

Short-term health insurance works just like any other health insurance plan would. First, you begin by finding the right policy, which is going to take a bit of time and effort unless you use tools like FirstQuote Health. The next step is to get yourself enrolled, and with short-term health plans, the enrollment process can happen on the same day. Once enrolled, you pay a monthly premium, which is a payment you make, typically each month, that gives you access to a network of providers who offer negotiated rates.

Once you are covered, you will receive a policy number from your short-term health insurance company, along with a coverage card. Just present either to your medical service provider and in most cases, all claims will be filed directly with your health insurance provider.

Graphic how short-term health insurance works

Even though you pay a monthly premium and are covered, you will still be required to pay some out-of-pocket costs. With temporary plans, your out-of-pocket expenses tend to be a little higher than with traditional health insurance plans. Out-of-pocket costs don’t include your premium but will include added costs like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance which can all add up quickly.

Find Out If Your Doctor Accepts Your Coverage

Most medical providers will accept short-term health insurance plans, but you can find out whether or not your current doctor accepts your coverage by talking to your short-term provider. Keep in mind, if you opt to go with term coverage from a large provider like United Healthcare, you will have access to a network of over 1 million licensed physicians.

How Much It Will Cost You

Short-term health insurance plans usually cost an average of $110, but you can expect prices to vary depending on coverage. It is safe to assume that the average cost of temporary health insurance will be significantly cheaper than traditional health insurance, but there are trade-offs to consider. short-term coverage may be cheaper, but it doesn’t offer the extensive cover you may desire.

Term health insurance prices are typically dependant on the following factors, where you live, how long you are looking to stay covered, and the out-of-pocket expenses you are willing to take on. Using FirstQuote Health is the easiest way to shop for and compare short-term health insurance quotes in your area.

Graphic short-term health insurance cost factors

Find Cheap Short-Term Health Plans

We’ve mentioned that these gap health plans don’t really measure up to traditional coverage, but what they lack in benefits, they more than makeup for in pricing. Consider this, short-term health insurance plans, on average, cost around $1,320 annually. Compare that with an average, traditional health insurance plan through the marketplace, which could cost you around $5,940 annually.

So, if you’re looking for cheap health insurance, all short-term plans would fall into that category. If you’re looking for the cheapest short-term health insurance plans, you’re going to have to do a little digging. A great place to get your start is with FirstQuote Health.

We work with tons of agents and brokers across the country who carry some of the most affordable short-term health insurance options available. To get started, you can enter your zip code, and within minutes you’ll be able to either talk to an experienced professional or compare quotes side by side.

How Long Your Plan Lasts

The duration of short-term health insurance plans has been a bit of a roller coaster over the last decade. Between the Affordable Care Act and President Trump taking office, here’s where we stand now.

In 2019, the limit of short-term plans was extended from 90 days to 12 months. With the new rule in place, it can be argued that these plans are no longer considered temporary. In fact, in addition to the duration extension, enrollees have the option to renew coverage for up to 3 years, which is longer than some traditional health insurance plans.

Extending Your Short-Term Coverage

If you’re looking to turn your temporary health insurance into something a bit more stable, as mentioned above, you can extend your plan. The only catch is that you have to already be enrolled in a short-term plan, and only then can you extend it for up to 3 years. Additionally, you can only extend your term coverage if the duration doesn’t exceed the 36-month limits imposed under President Trump’s new healthcare guidelines.

Cancelling Your Term Coverage

You can cancel or drop your short-term health insurance coverage whenever you want. What’s even better is that most health insurance companies will allow you to drop your term health plan without any penalties. Some will even reimburse you for premiums you have paid and didn’t get the chance to use.

Does Short-Term Coverage Qualify Under Obamacare?

No, short-term coverage was not, and still does not fall under the category of qualified health plans. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed, it forced every American to enroll in qualifying coverage, which met the minimum standards for benefits or face a tax penalty.

The purpose of the newly implemented piece of legislation was to drive Americans away from skimpy health insurance plans, which often offered little coverage, and towards policies that actually provided benefits. Temporary plans are traditionally lower quality plans that don’t cover much of the minimum essential benefits, like preventive services.

Today, you know longer have to worry about facing a penalty for being enrolled in short-term coverage, or forgoing health insurance altogether. President Trump removed the individual mandate early on in his presidency and shot these temporary coverage options back into the spotlight. Trump even added some new rules that allow you to extend your short-term coverage, making it a viable option in 2019.

The Pros And Cons Of Short-Term Health Insurance

Whenever you are about to make a big purchase, especially one that will determine the level of medical care you and your family will have access to, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. While short-term health insurance does have its advantages, there are some drawbacks that you want to consider before making any decisions.

Graphic short-term pros cons

The Pros

  • You are covered: There’s no bigger advantage to any health plan that knowing that you are protected in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Short-term plans are generally more affordable: If you are struggling to find health insurance that fits your budget, term coverage can help.
  • You can get coverage fast: How fast? Some short-term health insurance plans let you sign up for coverage the same day, so you don’t have to worry about long waiting periods.
  • Rate stability: Most temporary health insurance plans will keep you locked in at the rate you sign up with.
  • You aren’t limited to Open Enrollment: Unlike marketplace plans, you can sign up throughout the year, and don’t have to wait until the marketplace opens.

The Cons

  • No comprehensive coverage: Short-term health insurance plans aren’t designed to be your primary health insurance plan, so you may be missing out on some benefits like preventive care services.
  • Paying a tax penalty: Since short-term plans don’t count as qualified health coverage, you will be paying a tax penalty on top of your monthly premiums unless you qualify for an exemption.
  • No federal subsidies or premium tax credits: Temporary health insurance isn’t offered through the health insurance exchange, which is the only way you would be eligible for subsidized coverage.
  • You can’t renew your short-term plan: Once your plan expires, you will have to find new coverage.
  • No protection for pre-existing conditions: Unlike marketplace plans, you can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Gap health insurance doesn’t play by the same rules as most other qualified health plans. So if you have a medical history, these plans can end up being a nightmare for you.

The Best Short-Term Health Insurance Options

It depends on your situation. Different health insurance companies offer different levels of coverage. What you want is a plan that has an extensive provider network. The last thing you want is to enroll in temporary health insurance that only lasts a few months and makes you find a new doctor.

Next, you want to sit down and determine how much you are willing to pay. Finding affordable short-term health insurance plans are easy, but if you’re just looking at the price of your monthly premium, you could be setting yourself up for higher out-of-pocket costs down the road. If you know you have a medical history that will require frequent trips to the doctor’s office, make sure to opt for a low deductible plan.

Your best bet is to work with an independent health insurance broker or agent who can help you find gap health insurance that fits your needs.

Applying For Coverage

If you’re looking to apply for short-term health insurance, you’re going to have to do it off the exchange. Temporary health insurance plans, as mentioned before, still don’t count as qualifying coverage, so they are not allowed to be sold through the marketplace. This also means that you won’t qualify for any subsidies, but these plans will likely still cost you less than what you can find on the exchange.

You can find short-term health insurance plans just about anywhere, with the exception of the health insurance marketplace. Most of the major health insurance companies offer temporary coverage options, which is good news for you because it means you get a more extensive network of health providers.

Your best bet is to start your search online. The internet offers tons of resources that make shopping cover gap health insurance easier than ever. You can read reviews on short-term plans to see what others are saying about the current coverage they have, along with comparing plans and pricing side by side.

The final step in your application process is actually submitting your paperwork. You have a few options here, but working with an agent or broker will probably be easiest. You can opt to apply with an insurer directly, in which case, you will have to follow their application instructions which may vary.

Can You Be Denied?

Yes, you can be denied for short-term healthcare coverage. Unlike the Obamacare marketplace, term coverage providers don’t have to accept everyone who applies or charge them the same amount. For that reason, if you have any pre-existing or chronic health issues, an insurer may find you to be too much of a liability, and deny you coverage.

Short-Term Health Insurance Quotes

You have two options when searching for health short-term health insurance quotes. You can browse through different company websites and see what they have to offer, or you can use free comparison sites like FirstQuote Health.

FirstQuote Health makes finding short-term health insurance quotes easy by working with a wide range of independent health insurance brokers and agents who are licensed in your area. These health insurance professionals will help you find the most affordable short-term health insurance plans in your area, and make sure all your medical needs are met.


Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cover Prescriptions?

That depends on the coverage you choose. Some term health insurance plans will cover your prescriptions but may charge you higher premiums. Others may not cover your prescription medication at all. Consult with your agent, broker, or provider to find out exactly what is and isn’t covered under your policy.

Does Short-Term Health insurance Cover Preventive Services?

This is dependent on your coverage. Most short-term health insurance plans won’t cover preventive services because they are ultimately used to fill in the gap while you’re in coverage. If you opt for higher quality, more expensive term coverage you may have limited preventive services covered.

Can You Get Short-Term Coverage For Your Whole Family?

Yes, short-term health insurance can either be purchased for you or your family. There is no limit to the number of members you can include in your policy.

Do You Need To Pick A Primary Care Physician (PCP)?

Since you are enrolling in a temporary health insurance plan you won’t have to pick a primary care physician. You will be able to schedule appointments with any qualified physician in your network.