Health Insurance

4 Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies 2023

4 Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies 2023

UnitedHealthcare is our choice for the best overall short-term health insurance.

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We chose UnitedHealthcare for the best overall short-term health insurance based on features like multiple plan types, renewal options and out-of-network care. These factors make UnitedHealthcare stand out among other short-term insurance providers. Short-term health insurance policies, also called temporary health insurance, are typically one year or less in duration. Customers often use short-term coverage as a bridge between other full-benefit health policies.

Short-term plans are usually cheaper than full-benefit health insurance plans, and benefits can begin right away. But many plans have medical exclusions and higher deductibles.

Best short-term health insurance companies

The best short-term health insurance available is through UnitedHealthcare (UHC). The company provides coverage not offered by many short-term plans, such as preventive care, which promotes good health by catching issues early, and a dental add-on benefit. With UnitedHealthcare, you can choose from several policies with varying deductibles and term lengths.

All companies offer a range of policies with varying deductibles and coverage levels. A typical short-term health insurance policy will cost about $200 per month for a mid-tier plan with a $5,000 deductible.

Monthly cost for a short-term health insurance plan

Insurer
Rating
Minimal coverage
Moderate coverage
Good coverage
UnitedHealthcare
$130$194$324
Everest
$204$171$394
Pivot Health
$152$185$314
Allstate (National General)
$205$248$473

Sample rates are based on quotes for a 40-year-old male nonsmoker in Austin, TX purchasing a 6-month plan.

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UnitedHealthcare: Best overall plan

Consider this if you want flexible coverage lengths and a variety of policy options.
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Insurer details

  • Financial strength: A+
  • Complaints: 18% fewer than the industry average
  • Unique value: UHC provides multiple plan options, flexible term lengths and a large health network.

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UnitedHealthcare short-term health insurance is the best option if you are looking for multiple plan choices that offer benefits not always found in short-term plans, such as preventive care and optional dental coverage where available.

While some UHC plans restrict your care to network health care providers, UHC has a sizable network of more than 1.4 million medical providers and 6,500 hospitals.

UHC is a well-known and reputable insurance company with a very low rate of customer complaints. Short-term policies offered by UHC are underwritten through a subsidiary, Golden Rule Insurance Co. Both companies have strong financial strength ratings, meaning they have a high ability to pay out policy claims.

Pros

  • Option to cancel coverage with no penalty
  • Dental add-on coverage available depending on your state
  • Coverage for preventive care
  • Plans with minimal coverage have low prices

Cons

  • Only available in 25 states
  • Level of out-of-network coverage can vary by plan
  • Limited to ages 19 to 65

Everest: Most comprehensive medical benefits

Consider this if you want coverage for more types of medical services.
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Insurer details

  • Financial strength: A+
  • Complaints: 84% fewer than the industry average
  • Unique value: Everest offers additional benefits not provided by typical short-term health insurance policies.

Everest has the best short-term insurance plans if you want coverage for wellness visits, emergency care and mental health care — unique services not typically covered by this type of policy.

Everest offers a variety of plans with deductibles ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Other companies start with a minimum deductible of $2,500. The lower deductible means you pay less out of pocket and meet your deductible more quickly, allowing plan benefits to kick in sooner.

Along with coverage for adults, Everest has plans with wide-ranging coverage for children aged 2 to 25 years. It also offers child-only plans, which aren't always available from other insurers: Many short-term plans provide coverage for children only if they share your policy with their parent(s). This option can be helpful if you need to insure your child during a temporary break in health coverage.

Pros

  • Coverage for wellness, mental health, home health and substance abuse
  • Coverage for out-of-network doctors
  • Option to cancel with no penalty
  • Flexible payment options

Cons

  • Prescriptions not covered (unless hospitalized)
  • Preexisting conditions not covered
  • Only available in 25 states
  • Renewals may be limited

Pivot: Best for affordability and value

Consider this if you want low-cost plans that are about 12% cheaper than average.
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Insurer details

  • Financial strength: A+
  • Complaints: 54% fewer than the industry average
  • Unique value: Pivot Health has a large selection of affordable options with no network requirements.

Pivot Health offers four levels of coverage to meet your short-term insurance needs and budget. Pivot deductibles are between $1,000 and $10,000, a lower range than many short-term plans. Some Pivot plans charge a flat copay of $30 to $60 for medical visits, rather than coinsurance. Copays are typically cheaper than coinsurance and provide the comfort of knowing exactly what you'll pay for each visit.

Pivot Health has some bonuses that are not usually available for short-term health insurance. This includes access to a telemedicine program that is open 24/7 and allows you to speak to a medical professional on demand. Other perks include up to 70% off prescription drugs and potential discounts of up to 30% on eye exams, glasses and contact lenses.

Policy options include child-only plans, so you can buy temporary coverage just for your child. There is no network requirement attached to many Pivot plans, meaning you can receive care from almost any doctor.

Pros

  • 24/7 telehealth services
  • Some plans cover prescriptions
  • Discounts and lifestyle benefits
  • Coverage periods available that are as short as 30 days

Cons

  • No preexisting conditions covered
  • Your emergency services must be authorized by the insurer within 48 hours after you receive care

Allstate Health: Best for bundling

Consider this if you already have Allstate insurance and want a convenient add-on.
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Insurer details

  • Financial strength: A+
  • Complaints: Five times as many complaints as a typical company of its size
  • Unique value: Allstate plans include telemedicine and gym membership discounts.

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Previously sold under the brand National General, these short-term policies are now being marketed under its new parent company, Allstate.

If you have Allstate for home or auto insurance, using the same company for medical insurance can be an added convenience. However, there is not currently a multi-plan discount for Allstate short-term medical policies.

Allstate's short-term medical plans are usually more expensive than other companies when comparing the same level of coverage. Very cheap plans are available, though these bargain plans can have very poor benefits. For example, a plan could have a $25,000 deductible and a maximum benefit of $250,000, rather than more typical minimal coverage with a $10,000 deductible and a $1 million benefit cap.

Plans use the Aetna PPO network, which gives you a good choice of doctors. Coverage for preventative care is usually included, and urgent care appointments can be cheap because you'll pay lower rates even if you haven't yet met your deductible.

Pros

  • Convenient if you want to use one company for health, auto and home insurance
  • Good network of medical providers
  • Offers vision and dental policy add-ons

Cons

  • Expensive rates
  • Poor customer satisfaction
  • Several coverage exclusions including prescriptions

Best short-term health insurance plans — a quick guide

Company
Best for
Why we chose it
UnitedHealthcareOverall featuresVariety of term lengths and policy options
EverestUnique benefitsPays for wellness and other care not typically covered by short-term plans
PivotBest valueLower deductibles and multiple coverage levels
Allstate HealthBundlingConvenient policies with a good network of doctors

What is short-term health insurance?

Short-term health insurance plans provide limited medical coverage that is best used for when you have temporary gaps between full-benefit health insurance plans.

Plans usually cost less than a traditional health insurance policy, and short-term plans are sometimes called instant health insurance, as coverage typically begins as soon as your application is approved.

Benefits can vary widely because short-term plans do not have to adhere to standard coverage requirements. This means it's important to carefully check the plan details so you know what's covered and what's excluded.

Unlike an individual health insurance plan, a temporary health plan may deny you an insurance policy based on a preexisting condition or health standards set by the insurer. During the application process, you must answer some questions about your health history, and you may need to undergo a medical exam as well.

Pros and cons of short-term medical insurance

Pros

  • You can sign up any time
  • Quick coverage begins right away
  • Low monthly costs
  • Flexible benefit periods to meet temporary insurance needs

Cons

  • Cost of deductibles and coinsurance can be very high
  • Plans may have exclusions for certain medical treatments
  • You can be denied a plan because of your health history

Short-term health insurance laws by state

Federal rules set the maximum length of short-term health insurance policies to 364 days and the maximum 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 just short of three years.

Many states further restrict how long you can keep short-term plans or may even prohibit them from being sold.

State laws where short-term medical insurance is offered

State
Initial plan duration
Renewals?
Maximum duration
Delaware3 monthsNo3 months
Illinois6 monthsNo6 months
Kansas365 daysYes24 months
Louisiana12 monthsYes36 months
Maryland3 monthsNo3 months
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States where short-term health insurance is not sold

Short-term plans are permitted in the states below; however, at this time, no insurers are offering plans. If sold, the plans would have the following requirements:

State
Initial plan duration
Renewals?
Maximum duration
Colorado6 monthsNo6 months
Connecticut6 monthsNo6 months
District of Columbia3 monthsNo3 months
Hawaii3 monthsNo3 months
Maine364 daysYes24 months
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States where short-term health insurance is prohibited

Although short-term policies are available in many states, there are some areas where you will not be able to purchase this type of coverage. In the following states, legislation makes the sale of short-term health insurance illegal:

Should I purchase short-term health insurance?

Your best use of a short-term health insurance plan is 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 an excellent option to consider in the following scenarios:

  • Waiting period for employer health insurance
  • Missed open enrollment
  • Not qualifying for a special enrollment period (SEP)
  • Losing a job
  • Needing coverage before Medicare begins
  • Not qualifying for COBRA insurance
  • Students who need coverage during the school year
  • Aging out of a parent's plan

Using full-benefit health insurance plan for temporary coverage

Private health insurance policies can give individuals and families a way to get full medical benefits, and plans can be kept for any length of time.

  • You can enroll and cancel at any time. When you shop with an insurance agent or broker, or directly from an insurance company, there are no restrictions on when you can enroll, and in many cases, coverage will begin the first of the month. And because there isn't a contract, you can cancel your policy at any time, without penalty.
  • Coverage is standardized. Your benefits will include a range of essential medical care including treatment for preexisting conditions, mental health care, pregnancy and prescriptions.
  • Affordable rates may be available. Cheap health insurance plans can cost less than $400 per month for a basic plan with full benefits.
  • Those with low to moderate income can get discounted rates. When you shop on HealthCare.gov, those who qualify can use health insurance subsidies to reduce the cost of a full-benefit plan to be as cheap as a short-term plan, or in some cases cheaper. Use our health insurance subsidy calculator to estimate how much you would pay.
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Frequently asked questions

When should I consider short-term health insurance?

You should consider short-term insurance plans if you need coverage quickly and only plan to keep it for a limited amount of time. Short-term plans are cheaper than buying a standard health insurance plan, but they usually don't have the same level of medical benefits and may exclude things like preexisting conditions or prescription benefits.

How can I purchase short-term health insurance?

You can purchase a short-term medical policy at any time of year through an insurance agent or directly from a private insurance company.

How much does short-term health insurance cost?

The cost of short-term health insurance can vary widely but usually averages about $124 per month based on available plan data. How much you pay will depend on where you live, your medical condition, your age and the coverage you choose. You might pay as little as $60 per month if you choose a plan with a very high deductible, but expect to pay most of your medical costs with this type of coverage.

Methodology

Our ratings of the best short-term health insurance companies are based upon three factors: cost, financial strength of the company and policy flexibility.

  1. We analyzed cost by viewing policies offered by each insurer and comparing the monthly premiums for a 40-year-old male in Austin, Texas to determine which was the cheapest. We found the cheapest was not necessarily the best short-term insurer in many scenarios.
  2. We used financial strength and National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index data and focused on companies' ability to pay claims and their history of interactions with policyholders.
  3. We viewed policy flexibility as an important factor, especially for short-term plans, since these policies are mostly used for bridges in coverage.

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.