Around 28 million people didn’t have health insurance in 2020. In addition to federal tax penalties for being uninsured, a lack of health insurance can lead to not seeking the care needed. This can be a problem since a lack of regular medical care could increase the chances of developing a long-term condition.
Finding health insurance coverage is crucial. But there are so many options available. This can make it overwhelming to choose the best option for your unique needs or preferences.
Thankfully, there are ways to ensure you choose the best short-term health insurance policy. Continue reading below to learn more.
What is Short-Term Health Insurance?
Short-term health insurance plans only last for short periods ranging from a few weeks to a few years. The length of these policies is the primary difference between them and traditional options.
Typically, these policies are low-cost. However, these plans typically have higher out-of-pocket costs and less coverage than traditional loans.
Unlike traditional long-term policies, there are no open enrollment periods for short-term options. Instead, you can enroll any time during the year and begin your benefits after approval.
While there are several benefits to choosing a short-term policy, there are also significant drawbacks. Therefore, it’s crucial you investigate all your options before deciding that this is the best one for you. If you decide that a short-term policy is best for your unique circumstances, do your due diligence in choosing the best option available.
Why Choose Short-Term Health Insurance?
There are a few situations where short-term health insurance may be the best option. A few reasons you may want to choose this health insurance option include the following:
- You don’t currently have the money for a traditional health insurance option but will in the next few months to a year
- You’re uninsured but need temporary benefits for a procedure, viral season, possible emergencies, etc.
- You usually have traditional health insurance but are currently between plans or outside enrollment periods
- You’re in an employer waiting period and need interim insurance
- You missed an open enrollment period with a traditional insurance provider or your job
- You’ve retired early and don’t yet qualify for Medicare or other state benefits
Choosing the Best Short-Term Health Insurance
If you’ve decided short-term health insurance is the best option for you, it’s crucial you choose the best one. Before applying for or enrolling in any short-term policy, follow the steps below. This will help you select a plan that isn’t only reliable but also works for your unique needs and situation.
Check What the Plan Covers
No two temporary policies will cover the exact things, and most of them don’t cover preventative services. While this can make them limiting for many, they’re perfect for some situations. Generally, most short-term health insurance policies will provide coverage for things like:
- Hospitalizations (including emergency room visits and admissions)
- Outpatient surgeries
- Some doctor visits
- Urgent care visits
Policies may provide a different percentage of coverage, so you’ll want to identify which typical coverage matters most to you. For example, you may want temporary insurance to cover sick visits to your doctor and potential emergencies. In this case, you’ll want to ensure those coverages are among the highest coverage ratings possible.
Identify Any Exclusions
Short-term health insurance tends to be more limiting than traditional policies. This means there are likely to be many things that aren’t covered. Besides preventative care, mental health services and maternity are also usually excluded.
Make sure you understand each policy’s exclusion since they can vary from one provider to another. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure.
Understand Term Length
Short-term insurance plans can last for significantly different periods. Some plans may last a few weeks, while others might last up to three years.
You want to ensure your coverage lasts as long as you need. For example, let’s say you’re in an employer waiting period that lasts six months. Be sure to find a policy that will keep you covered during this time.
What happens if you need coverage for six months but only purchase a three-month policy? You won’t be covered in an emergency. Instead, you might pay entirely out-of-pocket, which most people can’t afford.
Ensure You Qualify
Not everyone qualifies for all traditional health insurance policies. Likewise, only some qualify for a short-term insurance policy. But, if you meet all the following requirements, you likely won’t have any problem qualifying for a temporary policy:
- You don’t have preexisting health conditions
- You don’t expect to need many healthcare services
- You missed open enrollment for another health insurance provider
- You don’t qualify for a special enrollment period
- You’re currently out of work
- You’ll soon qualify for Medicare
If you don’t meet all these requirements, don’t worry. Meeting at least one or more means, you may qualify for at least one short-term policy. If you have concerns about qualifying, consider speaking with a health insurance expert about them. An industry professional should be able to answer any questions you may have.
Check the Waiting Period
There isn’t usually a long waiting period for short-term health insurance policy benefits to becoming active. Generally, you can apply online, and once you receive approval, your benefits can start within a few days.
However, this isn’t always the case. Waiting periods before benefits become active vary significantly from provider to provider. For this reason, you’ll want to check the waiting period before applying – especially if you’re looking for coverage within a set period or for a specific upcoming procedure.
Price shouldn’t be the only consideration when choosing health insurance. However, it’s often a significant determining factor for those looking for short-term options. Ideally, you’ll want to find a balance between price and necessary coverage.
The best way to do this is to ensure a policy meets all your necessary coverage requirements. Then, choose the cheapest of these policies. Avoid selecting a short-term health insurance option based solely on price.
Read Reviews of Previous Experiences
The experience others have had with an insurance provider is an excellent indicator of the experience you’ll have. One place to read reviews of insurance providers is the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Remember to browse any written reviews in addition to looking at ratings. This will provide you with the most comprehensive understanding of how pleased others were with their insurance policies.
Are There Alternatives to Short-Term Health Insurance?
Yes, there are alternatives to short-term health insurance for those who can’t use a traditional policy for whatever reason. For example, you can choose an indemnity plan that works with a network of providers like a PPO or HMO. However, an indemnity plan differs from a temporary policy, so one option may be better for you.
What Is An Indemnity Plan?
An indemnity plan is also sometimes called a “fee-for-service” plan. Essentially, these health insurance policies allow you to choose your own medical provider and healthcare services without worrying if they’re in the insurance provider’s network.
Depending on your needs, an indemnity plan may be a more cost-effective alternative than a traditional health insurance policy – or even a short-term health insurance plan.
How Are Indemnity Plans and Temporary Health Insurance Policies Similiar?
Both of these health insurance types are cheaper than maintaining traditional policies in terms of monthly premiums. However, lower premiums are a trade-off for higher out-of-pocket costs. In young, healthy people with no preexisting conditions, lower premiums could be overall more affordable.
Both plan types also restrict coverage for preexisting conditions. You can also be denied coverage for several reasons, and services aren’t always guaranteed to be covered.
How Are Indemnity Plans Different From Temporary Health Insurance Policies?
Unlike short-term health insurance policies, there aren’t time limits on indemnity plans. Instead, they operate identically to traditional policies with annual enrollment periods.
Indemnity plans also generally offer more coverage than short-term policies. For example, they may cover prescriptions and preventative care, which isn’t always covered in short-term health insurance.
Although more affordable than traditional policies, indemnity plans tend to be more expensive than short-term policies. This means they may not be as affordable for those choosing alternative health insurance policies for financial reasons.
Frequently Asked Questions About Short-Term Health Insurance
Knowing what short-term policies are and how to choose the best one should provide you with a reasonable understanding of the topic. However, we’ve answered a few of the most frequently asked questions below to help you deepen your knowledge on this topic.
Is Temporary Health Insurance Available In Every State?
No, temporary health insurance isn’t available in every state. However, while twelve states have completely banned short-term policies, Texas isn’t one of them. Texas residents still have the option of choosing temporary health insurance plans instead of traditional options.
How Much Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cost?
The cost of short-term health insurance varies significantly based on several considerations. A few of the most common considerations include:
- Overall health
- Preexisting conditions (or the lack thereof)
- Your location
- The provider you choose to go with
- The specific insurance policy you choose
- The policy duration you choose
Other considerations may also affect the costs of short-term health insurance. However, short-term insurance policies are often significantly more affordable than traditional options. Remember, the trade-off for low monthly premiums is higher deductibles.
What Is The Usual Approval Time For These Policies?
Approval times vary but are generally very fast (especially when compared to traditional health insurance options). For most major short-term health insurance providers, you can expect it to take one day to one week for your application to be approved (or denied). Then, you can expect coverage to begin within a few weeks of your approval date.
Can You Buy Short-Term Health Insurance For Just One Month?
Some providers provide short-term health insurance policies for just one month. These are often used for people who plan to get something done (like surgery) or are between enrollment periods.
Does the Affordable Care Act regulate Short-Term Policies?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t regulate short-term health insurance policies. This is why these policies can limit coverage or deny it, so long as it adheres to any legal contracts between you and them. For example, a temporary insurance provider can’t deny coverage they’ve already explicitly stated they cover just because they feel like it.
How Do You Find Short-Term Health Insurance Policies?
You can search here for short-term health insurance policies. Since the ACA doesn’t regulate them, you won’t be able to find them on the related government website. Getting a free quote is your best option for finding the right policy.
Are Temporary Health Insurance Policies Renewable?
Sometimes. Some providers allow temporary health insurance policies to be renewed up to a certain time frame (like three years). However, some providers won’t allow you to renew your policy once your coverage period has ended.
- Short-term health insurance is available to Texas residents
- These policies aren’t regulated by the ACA
- Coverage terms can be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years
- Not everyone qualifies
- Lack of coverage and financial difficulties are common reasons to choose a short-term policy
- You should speak with an expert if you have questions
- Getting a free quote is the best way to find a temporary health insurance policy
Learn More About Health Insurance Options Today
Short-term health insurance can be an excellent option for certain people but isn’t always the best choice for everyone. If you still have questions about choosing the best short-term health insurance, contact us today using our online contact form.
One of our knowledgeable customer service representatives will be in contact as soon as possible to answer any questions you may still have or guide you in finding the best health insurance policy for your unique needs.