Comprehensive Guide to Short-Term Health Insurance

September 17, 2018

You can’t predict what life will bring.

From a job loss you didn’t see coming to an unexpected accident or illness, stuff happens.

There are a lot of circumstances in which you can just roll with it.

Health insurance isn’t one of those.

If a time comes when you find yourself without coverage, you may be at a loss about what to do.

Short-term health insurance may be the answer.

Let’s take a closer look at this type of coverage.

The basics of short-term health insurance

Short-term health insurance offers you coverage for a specific period of time.

This major medical insurance usually has a significantly lower monthly premium than other forms of health insurance.


There are several big benefits that short-term health insurance provides.

  • You’re not limited to certain doctors or hospitals. Do you love your doctor? With a short-term health insurance plan, you can keep seeing her.
  • You can enroll at any time. There aren’t any enrollment restrictions.
  • The process is quick. Getting approval happens swiftly and your coverage can kick in as soon as the next day.

Speak with One of Our Advisors

Who short-term health insurance can help

It’s not for everyone.

If you have a chronic condition, are in generally poor health, have mental health issues or have complex medical needs, a short-term plan won’t be a good fit for you.

You may also be denied coverage if you’ve had a medical condition or a serious health event within the last five years.

Short-term Health Insurance is a good idea for you in certain circumstances.

  • You missed the annual Open Enrollment period for coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
  • You need something to fill in the gap before another major medical insurance plan starts.
  • You’re in-between jobs, you’re only a part-time or seasonal worker or you can’t afford COBRA.
  • You’re a student, you’ve recently graduated or you’re too old for your parents’ health plan.
  • You’ve retired but you aren’t old enough for Medicare.
  • Your doctor or hospital doesn’t accept your Obamacare plan.
  • You can’t afford ACA coverage.

Breaking down the differences

Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the most important differences between short-term health insurance and ACA coverage.

1. Coverage availability

You can apply for short-term health insurance at any time and the coverage may even begin the next day.

With an ACA plan, you can only enroll during a specified period (unless you qualify for a special enrollment). You’ll wait two to eight weeks for coverage to start.

2. Coverage duration

Short-term policies generally last from one to three months, though you are usually able to reapply for additional terms.

You can keep your ACA coverage as long as the plan is available.

3. Prescription drugs

A short-term health insurance plan typically won’t cover prescription medications, though they may offer a discount card.

Your ACA plan will usually offer prescription drug coverage.

4. Preventive care

Depending on the plan you choose, some short-term coverage will provide some benefits for preventive care with cost-sharing, though most will not cover any preventive care services.

ACA plans are required to offer preventive care coverage.

Updates to the law

Here’s what you need to know.

  • Initial terms are lengthened to up to 12 months.
  • Plans can be renewed as long as the total duration doesn’t exceed 36 months.
  • Extended short-term plans aren’t available yet.
  • Short-term health insurance still won’t satisfy the ACA penalty, which won’t be repealed until January 1, 2019.

Short-term health insurance may be your solution

For those unexpected times in life when you find yourself without health insurance, a short-term solution may be the best answer.

You can secure coverage quickly and you can continue to work with the doctors with whom you’re most comfortable.

If you think a short-term plan may be right for you – or if you just have questions – please give InsureOne Benefits a call.

We’d love to chat and find a solution that meets your needs!

Have you thought about what a job layoff or loss would mean for your health insurance coverage?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 5/24/18 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.