Short-term health insurance limits have been extended by the federal government — creating short term plans that are more appealing than before.

For many families and individuals who do not qualify for subsidies, the medical insurance marketplace has become extremely expensive. If you miss the cutoff to be eligible for subsidies and are feeling the worst effects of unstable prices on medical insurance plans, then you are probably wondering if there are any solutions to getting affordable health insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Temporary Health Insurance

How long can I have short term medical insurance?

In 2017, short term health insurance plans were restricted to a maximum of 90 days (some states had up to 6 months). The idea was that healthy individuals who don’t require complete Obamacare plans would not flood the marketplace in favor of those skimpier, yet cheaper plans. This restriction would make people not to use short term health insurance policy as primary coverage, rather than a temporary solution to being uncovered.

Only one year later, a new rule was finalized which increased the limitation of short term health insurance plans to 364 days, with the choice to renew coverage up to 36 months. In 2019, enrollees will have the opportunity to be on a short term health insurance plan for a significantly longer period.

lady buying temporary health insurance

Why would you need a short term medical insurance plan for a longer time?

The primary appeal to short term strategies is their affordability. Following current data, short term programs are 1/5 the price of Obamacare plans with no subsidy. Moreover, even for households who do qualify for subsidies, short term health insurance would still be 1/3 of their price tag. The longer enrollees are permitted to remain on this kind of coverage, the more they could save.

If you are purchasing your insurance, without the assistance of an employer, you have likely already felt the effects of uncertainty in the individual market, and rapidly increasing costs. For the ones who don’t qualify for subsidies, or are contemplating just not purchasing insurance, short term plans are an excellent solution.

Although this policy won’t provide you with the ten essential benefits, and primarily covers emergency services, it can still be beneficial in case of an unexpected injury or illness. Nobody (even the healthiest people) is protected from medical bills brought on by emergencies–and if that does happen, you need to be sure that you have health coverage to avoid going bankrupt due to medical bills.  Also, a lot of financial problems are created by the loss of work due to an accident, so additional insurance to cover a loss of income is worthwhile reviewing.


Credit:  PBS NewsHour

Who must be on a short term medical insurance plan for the entire amount of permitted time?

Your choice in policy can’t be determined by anybody but you. Only you know what’s best for your health, so there is no one answer to give you a quick answer as to what to select.

Working with a health insurance agent may help you figure it out.  Most agents are trained to ask questions to help narrow down what you need and which policy bests fit those needs.

With that said, in general, short term plans will likely work best for men and women who usually think about health insurance as a backup plan if an unexpected medical crisis occurs. If you or a dependant,  visit medical care providers or facilities frequently or have costly prescriptions, short term may not be the most inexpensive option for you. The temporary plans have many exclusions, and a lot of those costs may not be insured until you meet a high deductible, or may not be covered at all.

If you’re looking for more comprehensive coverage which may cost more monthly, but offer additional benefits, then take a look at Obamacare plans.

How Long Can I Have Coverage?

In many regions, the new federal rule declared Short Term Limited Duration Insurance to a term of fewer than 12 months (364 days). However, term lengths vary by state. Check your state’s plans for details.

young man needs temporary health insurance

Is Short Term Health Insurance the Perfect Choice for Me?

Originally, Short-Term Health Insurance programs, often called Temporary health insurance or Term health insurance, were developed to compensate gaps in your medical care coverage during times of transitions.

Short Term or Temporary health Insurance programs may make sense if you’re:

  • Rolling off your parent’s insurance
  • Don’t have health insurance, do not have a qualifying event for Special Enrollment and have missed Open Enrollment
  • Waiting for Medicare
  • In between jobs
  • Waiting for your Affordable Care Act (ACA) policy to start
  • Waiting for benefits to begin in a new job
  • Needing a temporary alternative to COBRA insurance
  • Under 65 and in good health
  • Losing coverage after a divorce

In these situations and others where you end up temporarily lacking health care policy, picking a Short Term Medical Insurance plan might be only the security you will need to get you to that next phase of your life.

Do I Need to Purchase Short Term or Temporary Health Insurance During an Enrollment Period?

No,  you may apply for Short Term or Temporary health insurance at any time. Unlike Medical Insurance Plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, which you may purchase only during Open Enrollment each year (Nov 1 – Dec 15) or through a qualified Special Enrollment period.

How Do Short Term Medical Insurance Plans Manage Pre-existing Conditions?

Short Term Medical Insurance typically doesn’t cover preexisting medical problems. The definition of the preexisting condition varies by state, but,  Short Term health insurance plans don’t include coverage for diseases which have been treated or diagnosed within the past 2 to 5 yrs.

If you are suffering from any illness or disease, you might want to discover whether it is possible to extend your current health insurance coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance generally offers an 18-month extension via COBRA (or similar condition programs).  Also, if you have pre-existing conditions all the individual health insurance plans on Healthcare.gov are guaranteed issue, one of the reasons they cost more.

Is It Possible To Renew My Temporary Health Insurance Plan?

The new federal law allows for 36 months or 3-years maximum length of renewable coverage through the Short Term medical insurance plan for a particular period.

However, once your term is up, you can apply for a new short-term program. Remember, this isn’t an extension of your existing plan. Any illness or condition that you experience while covered under your current temp policy could be considered a preexisting condition for the new temp plan.

Is It Possible to Cover My Family with Short Term Insurance?

Yes, you can cover spouses and dependent children with Short Term Insurance Policy. Remember that all family members will be subject to the same set of medical questions to find out if they’re eligible for the program.

Single mom and child need short term health insurance

How Soon Can I Get Covered?

Next Day coverage on Short Term Medical Plans.  Immediately after the next day after you apply in many cases.

Are Short Term Health Insurance Plans Include High Deductibles?

Not necessarily.  Short Term Medical plans have different amounts for deductibles; you need to shop around for the one you find acceptable and can afford. The values range from $1000 deductible to up to $10,000 per 364 days.  Everyone has to pay their deductible amount first before the insurance will start paying your medical expenses.

Can I Take Federal Tax Subsidies to Help Pay for Short Term Insurance?

No, because Short Term health insurance plans are not minimum essential coverage as defined by the ACA. You’re not eligible for tax subsidies to help cover them.  However, Short Term Health Insurance plans are more affordable than ACA health insurance plans.

What Should I Do  If I Don’t Need Coverage For As Long As I Thought?

No problem. You can drop your policy at any time without penalty and get back premium paid after the termination date.

Are Prescriptions Covered?

Sometimes. Prescription coverage is available with some plans. Check specific plans for details in the Summary of Benefits section.

The information provided here is not intended as medical advice.  This information should only serve as a general guideline for how short term health insurance works.  Coverage on programs may vary based on the plan and the health insurance company.  Also, make sure you check the details before buying a Short Term health insurance plan.

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