Short-Term Health Insurance FAQ

Basics

What is short-term health insurance?
Who should get short-term health insurance?
What is short-term health insurance used for?
How does short-term health insurance work?
How long do short-term health insurance policies last?
When can you enroll in short-term health insurance?
Is short-term health insurance a good idea?
What is the best short-term health insurance?

The ACA (Obamacare)

Is short-term health Insurance the same as Obamacare?
Do temporary plans fulfill the ACA’s individual mandate for health insurance coverage?

Cost

How much does short-term health insurance cost?
Why is short-term health insurance cheaper than major medical?

Availability

Is there short-term health insurance in my state?
Where can I buy short-term health insurance?

Coverages

Does short-term health insurance cover pregnancy?
Does short-term health insurance cover pre-existing conditions?
Does short-term medical cover preventive care?
Does short-term health insurance cover children and infants?
Does short-term health insurance cover seniors?
Does short-term health insurance cover prescription drugs?
Does short-term health insurance cover birth control?

Basics

What is short-term health insurance?

Short-term health insurance (also referred to as short-term medical or temporary health insurance), provides temporary benefits that help pay for healthcare when you don’t have major medical insurance or another plan that qualifies as minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare. Read our “Complete Beginner’s Guide” to short-term health insurance to learn more.

Who should get short-term health insurance?

You may want to choose short-term coverage if you are between ACA plans due to:

  • Being in an employer waiting period
  • Missing Obamacare open enrollment
  • Ineligibility from special enrollment under the ACA
  • Aging off a parent’s health insurance plan upon turning age 26

What is short-term health insurance used for?

Short-term health insurance benefits can be used to help pay for a range of unexpected medical bills – from relatively minor events such as a doctor’s office visit due to illness, to major events such as a heart attack.

Examples of healthcare commonly covered by a short-term plan include:

  • Hospital room, board and general nursing care
  • Emergency room visits
  • Inpatient doctor visits
  • Doctor office visits
  • Surgical services
  • Intensive or specialized care

How does short-term health insurance work?

You present your health insurance ID card at the time you receive healthcare services. Your healthcare provider bills your short-term health insurance company, and that company then pays the amount your policy covers for eligible expenses. You are then billed for your portion.

How long do short-term health insurance policies last?

Short-term plans last from 30 to 364 days with duration limits varying by state.

Learn more about the removal of short-term medical limits and what it means to you.

When can you enroll in short-term health insurance?

There is no open enrollment period for short-term health insurance. You can enroll year-round. If your application is accepted, you can choose to begin coverage as early as the next day.

Begin the enrollment process now by comparing multiple short-term plans available in your area.

Is short-term health insurance a good idea?

Whether or not short-term coverage is right for you depends upon your life stage and circumstances, your personal healthcare needs and budget.

Read what to consider when deciding whether or not short-term health insurance is right for you, and call the number on your screen to discuss your options with an agent.

What is the best short-term health insurance?

There is no one-size-fits-all plan recommended for everyone. Short-term coverage comes in many designs to accommodate your healthcare needs and household budget.

Learn more about what to consider when choosing a short-term plan, including premium, deductible, pre-existing condition coverage and more.

The ACA (Obamacare)

Is short-term health Insurance the same as Obamacare?

No, short-term health insurance is not the same thing as Obamacare/ACA. Short-term health insurance plans are not required to provide essential health benefits, are not guaranteed issue and are not subject to other provisions mandated under the ACA.

Do temporary plans fulfill the ACA’s individual mandate for health insurance coverage?

No, short-term health insurance does not qualify as minimum essential coverage under the ACA. However, since the repeal of the individual mandate tax penalty beginning January 2019, there is now no federally enforced financial penalty for not participating in the ACA and obtaining a qualifying major medical policy (Note that you could still be subject to a tax penalty for 2018 or earlier if you went longer than 3 months without qualifying major medical coverage during that time.)

Cost

How much does short-term health insurance cost?

Although short-term health plans do not offer the same coverage as an Obamacare plan, they typically cost less than an unsubsidized Obamacare plan. For a comparison, see this example using rates for a 35-year-old woman living in North Carolina1:

Plan TypeUnsubsidized PremiumDeductible
Secure Net Short-Term Plan* (HealtheDeals.com)$114.04$5,000
Bronze ACA Plan$469.85$6,650
Short-Term Plan Savings:$355.81$1,650

* Short-Term Health Insurance does not qualify as minimal essential coverage.

The best way to find out what a short-term health plan will cost you is to request a quote. It takes about 1 minute to obtain multiple plan options, then compare premium costs and coverages to find the best fit for your needs.

Why is short-term health insurance cheaper than major medical?

Short-term health plans generally have more affordable premiums than major medical plans because they are not subject to ACA provisions and provide less coverage. For example, short- term medical insurance has few or no preventive care benefits.

Short-term health insurance plans are designed to provide benefits that help with medical bills resulting from unexpected illnesses and injuries.

In general, the more coverage you seek, whether through an ACA plan or a short-term plan, the higher the premium you will pay.

Comparison of Short-Term Health Insurance and Obamacare

What They OfferShort-Term Medical PlansMajor Medical
Coverage TypeTemporary, catastrophic coverageLong-term, minimum essential coverage including the ACA’s 10 essential health benefits
Coverage Length30-364 days (duration limits vary by state)365 days
Premium CostTypically less than an unsubsidized ACA plan; cost varies by plan selectedTypically more than a short-term health plan, but subsidies may reduce cost; cost varies by plan selected
Pre-Existing ConditionsNot typically covered; dependent on plan selectedCovered by law
Preventive Care BenefitsNot typically covered; dependent on plan selectedCovered by law
Enrollment PeriodYear-round enrollment; plans start as early as the day after your application is acceptedDuring the annual open enrollment period, or a special enrollment period when eligible
Fulfills Individual MandateNoYes
Subsidies AvailableNoYes
Guaranteed IssueNoYes

Availability

Is there short-term health insurance in my state?

Plan availability varies by state. You can get a quote now to find out what plans are available to you through Health eDeals.

Where can I buy short-term health insurance?

You can buy short-term medical coverage from a few sources, including websites such as Health eDeals, a licensed health insurance producer and specific health insurance companies. Learn more about “Who Sells Short-Term Health Insurance.” Or, get a quote now through Health eDeals.

Coverages

Does short-term health insurance cover pregnancy?

They typically do not. However, some states require maternity coverage. Talk with a licensed producer to find out if maternity is covered in your state.

Does short-term health insurance cover pre-existing conditions?

As a general rule, no, short-term plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. However, some plans, like Connect Plus, have the option for additional benefits (at additional cost) to provide some coverage for certain pre-existing conditions.

Limits do apply, including a dollar limit on the benefit amount the plan will pay out for pre-existing conditions.

Does short-term medical cover preventive care?

They typically do not. That said, there are some plans that include a few basic preventive care services such as Pap smear, mammography and prostate antigen testing. Read policy details to learn what preventive services the plan you are considering may cover or exclude, and talk with a producer to find plans with preventive care benefits.

Does short-term health insurance cover children and infants?

Short-term policies may include coverage for dependent children up to age 26, and child-only plans may be available to children starting at age 2. Call the number on your screen to speak with an agent who can help you find a plan for your family, or use Agent Finder to find local assistance.

Does short-term health insurance cover seniors?

Typically, no. Temporary coverage sold through Health eDeals is available to adults age 18 to 64.

Does short-term health insurance cover prescription drugs?

Outpatient prescription drugs are not typically covered by short-term policies. You may consider adding a prescription drug discount program such as the Rx Paycard.

Does short-term health insurance cover birth control?

These policies do not typically cover birth control. You may consider adding a prescription drug discount program such as the Rx Paycard.


Next Steps

Learn more about temporary health plans.

Contact an insurance advisor to get help sorting through your options and finding the best type of medical insurance plan to meet your needs.

Either call the number on your screen, or find an agent near you.

Footnotes

  • 1 Rate is for a 35-year old female located in the 28015 ZIP code. Rates vary by location, age, and sex.