How To Better Understand Your Short Term Health Insurance Options

Are you in the market for health insurance? Feeling overwhelmed by the choices and even more distraught by the cost for those insurance plans?

Shopping for health insurance is not nearly as fun as shoe shopping. Yet, in today’s world of high-cost medical expenses, you don’t want to be without medical insurance either.

Studying health insurance options to find a plan that works for you and is affordable can feel like wading through a maze.

Read on to learn about one type of insurance option you might not have considered. Short-term health insurance might surprise you with its affordability and meet your needs too.

What is Short Term Health Insurance?

Short-term health insurance is a type of health insurance that is unique because of its terms. It allows users to get medical coverage for a short period of time.

The laws changed in 2018 and allowed users to take advantage of a short-term insurance plan for up to 12 months. In some cases, the insured can even renew the plan for up to 36 months of coverage.

The laws for coverage vary by state, so it’s important to do your research.

Short-term health insurance can make sense in some circumstances. But because of its restriction, there are situations where it isn’t the best choice for your insurance needs.

You can read this blog for additional information related to short-term coverage.

When Short Term Insurance Makes Sense

You might be wondering why you should go through all the hassles of finding health insurance and only have it be for the short term. Wouldn’t that mean you have to start looking again before even a year is up?

Short-term insurance makes sense in a few scenarios.

You might find yourself between two jobs wherein both jobs you get longer-term health insurance coverage. You don’t want to go without coverage in the interim, so a short-term plan will keep you covered.

Short-term health insurance also makes sense if you don’t get health insurance from your employer and can’t afford the plans available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

If you are self-employed or a freelance worker and don’t have the option of going to an employer for coverage, the short-term plans can be both affordable and get you covered.

Short term care works for these reasons too:

  • You are in good health
  • Don’t often use health care services
  • Don’t have pre-existing conditions

Because short-term health coverage can be more reasonably priced than say options from the ACA, if you fit in these categories it might make sense for you.

What Does Short Term Insurance Cover?

Short coverage does have some restrictions. Let’s look at what it does cover for those who elect for this coverage.

Visits to the Doctor

In most cases, a visit to the doctor will be covered. Depending on the particulars of your plan, there might be a copay or deductible that needs to be met for the year.

Some plans also limit the number of visits or which doctors you can see.

Emergency Room Care

If you find yourself in the emergency room for treatment, you are likely going to get coverage or partial coverage.

If you are treated in the emergency room but not admitted to the hospital most plans will cover a percentage of the bill. They might also cover the bill up to a certain dollar amount.


Again, the intention of short-term plans is to give you coverage for serious accidents, illnesses, or unforeseen injuries.

Most plans will cover hospitalization. It may be that the plan covers a percentage of the cost or the cost up to a certain dollar amount.

Like any health care plan, short-term plans can be customized. It’s important to understand the fine print of your plan to know deductibles, coverage, co-pays, and limits with the insurance.

When Short Term Insurance Isn’t The Right Fit

There are some scenarios where short-term insurance doesn’t make sense or you won’t be approved for a plan.

In most cases, short-term plans will not cover prescription drugs. If you take a large number of medications, don’t plan on those being covered.

Short-term coverage does not cover any pre-existing health conditions. If you have a pre-existing condition, it’s doubtful you would be approved. If you are approved, know those care connected to that condition will not be eligible for coverage.

Short-term plans often don’t cover maternity or mental health care services either.

Pros and Cons of Short Term Insurance Coverage

Like with any health care or insurance option, it’s important to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of a plan.

Positives of short term coverage include:

  • More reasonably priced than some other plans
  • Provides for a gap in coverage
  • Quick approval
  • Customizable plans
  • Increased duration of coverage available

Some reasons to keep looking at other options:

  • Pre-existing condition
  • Set dollar limit on coverage
  • No prescription drug coverage unless hospitalized
  • Coverage can be not comprehensive

While short-term health insurance is a good fit for many, read the fine print. There can still be gaps in coverage.

Balance billing can also be an issue. This happens when you visit a doctor and the doctor sends the bill to the insurance company. The insurance company agrees to a set reasonable payout amount.

If the short term insurance company doesn’t have a coverage agreement with the doctor, you as the patient can get billed for the difference.

Understanding Your Health Insurance Options

Shopping for health insurance options can be daunting. Surely, the price tag alone on some policies can leave you reeling.

For many, short term health insurance provides needed coverage for a limited period of time. It offers necessary protective coverage for reasonable rates.

Like when purchasing any insurance plan, do your homework to make sure you understand the ins and outs of the policy.

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