Answered on this page:
- What is short-term health insurance?
- When can short-term health insurance help?
- What is the fastest way to get health insurance benefits?
- Can I get health insurance for one month?
- How can I apply for short-term health insurance?
The first thing to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is sometimes known as Obamacare, is that it’s required under law to be “guaranteed issue.” That means that you can’t be denied coverage under an ACA-compliant health insurance plan because of your current health status, including any pre-existing conditions.
While that certainly makes it sound like everyone should be eligible for Obamacare, it is not always convenient, practical or even possible to be enrolled in an Obamacare plan.
You may be thinking, “I need health insurance now. Can I get health insurance for one month?”, “What are my options for month to month health insurance?” or “How can I access immediate health insurance coverage if I missed enrollment for Obamacare?”
This article discusses the ins and outs of short-term health insurance – what it is, how long it can last, and what benefits you can expect.
Keep reading to find out how to protect your finances, even when you’re in between major medical insurance plans, and how to get health insurance now!
Can’t I just go without health insurance?
It may be tempting to go without health insurance. It is just a month or two, right? While it may seem unlikely you will need the benefits while briefly uninsured, going without health insurance can mean you will have to pay all of your medical expenses yourself.
If you become injured or unexpectedly ill, are you prepared to pay for related medical care entirely out of pocket? If not, short-term health insurance could provide benefits to help you pay for covered medical expenses.
When can short-term health insurance help?
Short-term health insurance plans are designed to bridge the gap while you are waiting to access other coverage such as major medical insurance or Medicare. Here are some examples of situations where it might be useful to purchase short-term health insurance for one month or longer:
Missed open enrollment – If you missed the annual deadline or cut-off to enroll in a major medical plan and your specific situation does not qualify you for a special enrollment period, short-term health insurance may be an ideal solution to cover your health insurance needs until you can enroll in Obamacare.
Newly employed and waiting for insurance – Many Americans have health insurance administered through their employer, and those between jobs usually go through a transitional period where they are no longer covered by their previous employer’s benefits and not yet covered by insurance under their new employer.
Short-term health insurance can help to limit your financial liability for medical services during this transition period.
Part-time seasonal workers – Some people work office jobs that see them employed year-round, while others perform vital seasonal work that is often labor-intensive but results in the person being unemployed and without health insurance through their employer for part of the year.
Seasonal employees can apply for short-term medical insurance to bridge the gap between seasons and ensure that they always benefit from some form of health insurance coverage.
Close to Medicare eligibility – There are several ways to qualify for Medicare in the United States. Turning 65 is one way, but you can also qualify for Medicare while under 65 if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and have been for more than 24 months.
If you are just a few months away from qualifying for Medicare and need some kind of insurance to help get you there, a short-term health insurance plan offers a highly customizable way to ensure you don’t end up paying for medical expenses out of your own pockets.
What is short-term health insurance?
Short-term health insurance is insurance that does not meet the minimum coverage requirements of ACA plans. It is designed to provide temporary health insurance in cases where an unforeseen or unexpected lapse in coverage takes place, bridging the gap while you wait to enroll in a comprehensive health insurance plan that provides full benefits.
Short-term health insurance plans can be customized based on the healthcare services that you anticipate using while you wait to purchase an ACA plan. Importantly, pre-existing conditions (conditions that you have received medical treatment for in the past) are not typically covered under short-term health insurance plans.2
However, through this website there is a short-term plan with limited pre-existing coverage available, this is a product new and unique to the health insurance market.
What a short-term health plan covers
Life is unpredictable, even if you are in good health. Should unexpected situations become reality, a short-term health insurance plan can offer peace of mind that you have benefits to help pay for covered medical expenses until your ACA-compliant qualified health insurance plan takes effect.
Temporary health plans:
Provide one month health insurance if that’s all you need. You can have short-term health insurance for as few as 30 days if that is all you need until you begin an employer’s plan or can buy an ACA-compliant individual major medical plan through open or special enrollment. Note that short-term plans are not the same as Obamacare plans.
Provide limited duration insurance coverage for 30 to 364 days depending on your state. Not all states allow for durations of 364 days and some states don’t allow short-term medical insurance at all.
Include benefits for unexpected medical care. Covered expenses may include inpatient hospital care, intensive care, outpatient hospital care, outpatient emergency room visits, surgical services and more—benefits will vary by plan.
May be customized. Choose your deductible and coinsurance percentage, as well as your plan network type, to design the temporary health insurance coverage that works best for you. There are even some plans available with a limited coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Tend to be more affordable. Premiums for temporary health insurance plans are typically less than ACA-compliant major medical insurance premiums; however, short-term medical policies are not as comprehensive. This may be helpful if you are in a life transition.
Rates will vary dependent upon plan selection and other factors. Short-term limited duration medical expense insurance is non-renewable. If you purchase a new policy, any conditions for which you incurred claims under the prior policy is considered a pre-existing condition. The purchase of a new policy is not guaranteed and you may be ineligible for new coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The new policy will have a new deductible and coinsurance limit to be satisfied according to the policy documents. The amount of benefits provided depends on the plan selected and the premium will vary with the amount of benefits selected.
Can be purchased online, anytime. Shop and enroll in short-term medical insurance 24/7. The application and approval process takes only a few minutes.
Begin (almost) right away. Temporary health insurance coverage takes effect as early as the day after application and enrollment. You will not need to wait until the first of the following month for your policy to take effect. If you need health insurance now, your best option is to apply for a short-term plan that will take effect as early as the day after you apply.
May be paired with additional benefits. Short-term insurance can be used with other supplemental insurance and insurance add-on products that can help you reduce out-of-pocket expenses, including telemedicine, medical gap plans and dental insurance—plans you can keep and use once you enroll in an Obamacare plan.
Options and exemption for short-term health insurance plans
One of the major perks of short-term health insurance is that it can be highly customized to suit your specific needs. This feature is a big part of what can result in lower premiums than ACA-compliant plans, which are required to cover 10 major areas of medical expenses while short-term health plans are not.
Possible coverage options for short-term health insurance include (but are not limited to):
- Hospital room and board
- Emergency care, including anesthesiology and surgical procedures
- Diagnostic services, including X-rays, medical imaging, laboratory testing and analysis
- Ambulatory care and surgical services
- Doctor visits, including routine check-ups and physical examinations
As you may have noticed, short-term health insurance generally provides coverage for high-dollar, unexpected care and treatment.
Despite its flexible nature, there are still several conditions that won’t be covered by a short-term health insurance plan:
- Sport-related injuries (team sports and martial arts included)
- Injuries or illness related to participating in extreme sports or other dangerous activities
- Medical costs resulting from injury from riding an ATV, dirt bike, snowmobile, or Go-cart, or from racing a motorcycle, boat or any type of aircraft.
- Ongoing treatment of pre-existing conditions
- Tobacco, drug, and alcohol-related treatment expenses
- Any medical expenses incurred prior to the effective date or after the expiration date of the policy
It pays to be on your best behavior while you’re covered by a short-term health insurance policy, as any injury or illness stemming from your participation in an inherently risky activity is unlikely to be covered under your policy.
Can I have a short-term plan instead of an Obamacare plan?
It is important to recognize that temporary health insurance plans are not ACA compliant and do not qualify as minimum essential coverage. They are intended for unforeseen circumstances and do not include essential health benefits or preventive care.
Short-term health plans are not guaranteed issue and pre-existing conditions exclusions apply, which means your health history can impact whether or not you qualify for coverage.
Uninsured for the long term? Consider an Obamacare plan
If you need a qualified health insurance plan to access comprehensive health insurance benefits, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Special enrollment periods are extended to those amid certain life events (e.g., moving, divorce, marriage, adopting or giving birth to children) and allow you to enroll in an ACA-compliant health insurance plan outside of open enrollment.
During a special enrollment period, qualified health insurance plans may be purchased through a state-based or federally facilitated health insurance exchange or in the private marketplace.
Short-term health insurance should not be considered a replacement or substitute for an ACA-compliant Obamacare plan, as you won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions and there are many cases where you won’t receive benefits at all.
Still, short-term insurance plays a vital role in our health insurance ecosystem, ensuring that folks who are between Obamacare plans can quickly and simply secure insurance that covers many types of unforeseen expenses.
You can also call the number at the top of your screen for assistance.
Get answers to more frequently asked questions about short-term insurance.
Learn more about short-term medical health insurance.