What Is Short Term Health Insurance?

Short Term Medical Insurance


Short term health insurance for temporary gaps in coverage.



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An increasing number of Americans are opting to use short-term medical insurance for coverage during various life situations.

You may find a short-term policy beneficial while waiting for coverage from another health insurance plan or for your Medicare benefits to start. Perhaps you’ve been recently laid off from your job and want to remain covered by some form of insurance. If you are a recent college graduate or a seasonal or part-time employee, you may find short-term medical insurance an ideal option to meet your needs.

It can be risky to go without medical coverage. If you’re suddenly diagnosed with an illness or have injuries as a result of an accident, the medical costs can be financially devastating. In the absence of a traditional long-term insurance policy, short-term policies can fill in the gap.

Short-term medical insurance may be the safety net you need if you are:

  • Between jobs
  • A recent graduate
  • Waiting for employer-provided group insurance to take effect
  • Waiting for approval for comprehensive health care coverage
  • A recent U.S. immigrant
  • Recently retired

Just like other forms of health insurance, short-term health insurance can help you avoid the financial risk of being uninsured.

It can also contribute to your overall well-being and health. According to the Institute of Medicine, people who aren’t covered by health insurance are more likely to postpone essential visits to health care professionals. When illnesses are diagnosed and treated at later stages, healthy outcomes are less certain and the conditions may worsen, leading to further complications.

Group of young adults

Short-term health insurance policies are designed to provide financial security and help cover the expenses of medical care by providing protection at an affordable price. Short-term health insurance is exactly what it sounds like—health insurance issued for a relatively short period of time.

Many short-term health insurance products offer benefit periods ranging from one to 11 months, depending on the state in which the coverage is purchased. Several deductible and coinsurance options are available, with the premium costs varying according to the features you choose. With most policies, you can customize options to meet your needs, choosing among deductibles, length of coverage and other factors.

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While short-term health insurance can provide an affordable option to help you fill in the gaps you have in coverage, some plans feature a high deductible that must be met before insurance begins to pay medical costs. Other plans provide full coverage once you have met the deductible, while others have additional coinsurance amounts.

Short-term health insurance may cover hospitalization, emergency room and doctors’ services in hospitals and in physicians’ offices for eligible injuries and illnesses. However, short-term health insurance typically does not cover dental care or optical care (except as it pertains to an accident or illness), normal pregnancy or childbirth, wellness care, sports injuries, pre-existing conditions, or care received outside of the U.S. unless those benefits are mandated by your state.

Short-term health insurance plans may not cover pre-existing medical conditions. The definition of a pre-existing condition varies by state, but in general, short-term health insurance policies exclude coverage for conditions diagnosed or treated within the previous three to five years. If you have an existing medical condition, you may want to research whether you can extend your current insurance.

Before you go without coverage, ask yourself these questions:

  • What happens when I don’t have health insurance?
  • What are my options when I’m waiting for coverage?
  • What about temporary health insurance coverage for my children?

When shopping for an individual policy, look for a reputable company. Be sure to read all of the details of the policy. If you have more questions about which short term health plan is best for you, visit our section on health insurance reviews. There you’ll find information regarding insurance types, pricing models, and more. Or learn more by browsing our most frequently asked questions regarding temporary health insurance.

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