Short term health insurance (STM), also referred to as temporary health insurance, is a type of medical coverage that is available for shorter durations of time, such as up to three months. Temporary insurance plans have more restricted coverage than major medical but also can have a lower premium.
Covered expenses for temporary health insurance plans generally include the high-dollar, unexpected care and treatment you may require as a result of an illness or injury – from a serious medical event like a heart attack or stroke to a broken leg or doctor’s office visit due to illness.
Remember, these plans are highly customizable (that’s one of the perks!). The chart below describes benefits that may be covered with short term medical policies.
Individual insurance plans vary, so you’ll want to read the plan details closely to validate the coverage and benefits you’ve selected and what exclusions apply.
Hospital room and board
Emergency room – anesthesiology and surgical care
Diagnostic services – X-rays, laboratory tests and analysis
Ambulance and surgical services
Injuries or illness related to participating in extreme or dangerous activities
Medical costs resulting from injury from riding an ATV (dirt bike, snowmobile, go-cart), racing with a motorcycle, boat or any form of aircraft
Treatment of pre-existing conditions
Any medical expenses incurred prior to the effective date or after the expiration date of your policy
Tobacco, drug, and alcohol-related treatment expenses
Here are a few of the pros and cons to consider when you’re thinking about signing up for a short term health plan.
Temporary health insurance plans are best for people who:
How long can you stay on your parent’s plan? Do you really need insurance if you're young and healthy?
Learn the best health insurance options for young adults and how to decide which one is best for you.Learn more
COBRA is not your only option for health insurance if you find yourself unemployed.
Losing your job qualifies you for a special enrollment period for major medical, and there are alternatives like short term health (available year round) as well.Learn more
What should you do if you don't get health insurance through your employer?
You may need to purchase major medical coverage on your own, or enroll in an alternative health plan.Learn more
Can you buy health insurance that isn’t Obamacare? Yes.
It’s important to note that Obamacare alternatives are not comprehensive health plans and have less coverage than Obamacare plans.Learn more
Medicare kicks in at age 65 – so what if you retire before that and lose your job-based group health benefits?
Compare options and select the best one for you.Learn more
Here’s how to use a short term health insurance plan:
When you apply for short term health benefits, you pay monthly premiums in order to receive coverage for eligible medical expenses.
When you get hurt or sick, go to your preferred hospital and obtain the necessary medical services, presenting your insurance card.
The hospital bills your short term insurance carrier, who pays its share of eligible medical expenses and bills you for your share.
When you get billed for the services, you will be responsible for the deductible amount, just like any medical insurance policy.
After paying the deductible amount, you are responsible for a percentage of the remaining expense (called “coinsurance”).
Once you’ve reached the out-of-pocket maximum for your policy, your insurance plan pays 100% of the remaining covered medical expenses up to the “coverage-period maximum benefit."
Short term medical premiums may cost less than many private major medical plans because they provide less coverage.
 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Fact Sheet: Short Term, Limited-Duration Insurance Proposed Rule.” Feb. 20, 2018. https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2018-Fact-sheets-items/2018-02-20.html
 Lower, A. (2018). Average Short Term Health Premium Creeps Lower | ThinkAdvisor. ThinkAdvisor. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2017/11/13/average-short-term-health-premium-creeps-lower