Health Insurance

What to Know About Short-Term Health Insurance

What to Know About Short-Term Health Insurance

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Short-term health insurance is a health insurance policy that is typically one year or less in the length of coverage. These policies differ from individual health insurance in duration, whether they can be renewed and the coverage they provide. For this reason, short-term health insurance will usually be used in a temporary situation when a family or individual is bridging between other full-benefit health insurance policies like individual or group.

What is short-term health insurance?

A short-term health insurance policy is a plan that will provide coverage for basic procedures and expenses such as primary care checkups.

During the application process, you will be required to answer some questions about your health history. Therefore, unlike individual health insurance, a temporary health plan is not issued on a guaranteed basis, meaning you could be denied coverage if you have a pre-existing condition or do not meet the health standards set by the insurer.

These plans usually will provide less coverage when compared to full-benefit plans such as individual or employer health insurance but can cost upwards of $300 less. Short-term health insurance policies are not required to cover the 10 essential health benefits that are guaranteed by individual health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). When comparing temporary plans you should carefully review the benefits and plan details to make sure you are getting the coverage that you need.

Short-term health insurance laws

Federal rules set the maximum length of short-term health insurance to 364 days and the number of renewals to three. This means that the maximum amount of time that you would be able to have a short-term health insurance policy is three years. However, individual states have set their own regulations regarding the average length of short-term health insurance. Below are the states that have set such laws:

StateInitial plan durationRenewals?Maximum duration
Delaware3 monthsNo3 months
Illinois6 monthsNo6 months
Kansas365 daysOne24 months
Louisiana12 monthsYes36 months
Maryland3 monthsNo3 months
Michigan185 daysNo185 days
Minnesota185 daysNo365 days
MissouriSix monthsYes36 months
North Dakota185 daysOne12 months
Nevada185 daysNo185 days
New Hampshire6 monthsNo18 months
Ohio364 daysNo52 weeks
Oregon3 monthsYes3 months
South Carolina11 monthsYes33 months
South Dakota6 monthsNo6 months
Utah363 daysNo363 days
Washington3 monthsNo3 months
Wisconsin365 daysYes18 months

How can I purchase short-term health insurance?

Short-term health insurance plans are available for purchase through most health insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare and National General. However, although short-term policies are available in most states, there are some areas where you will not be able to purchase this type of coverage. Below are the states that currently have legislation that make the sale of short-term health insurance illegal.

Why would I purchase short-term health insurance?

Short-term health insurance should be used to fill a gap in coverage until you can find a longer-term health insurance option. Therefore, it is a temporary solution that could be used in the following scenarios:

  • Waiting period for employer health insurance
  • Losing a job
  • Missed open enrollment
  • Don't qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP)
  • Students who may be in college and need coverage during the school year
  • Aging out of a parent's plan
  • Need coverage before Medicare begins
Sterling Price

Sterling Price is a research analyst at ValuePenguin specializing in health and life insurance. He graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelors degree in Finance and Accounting and has previous experience as a licensed life insurance representative.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.