Health Insurance

4 Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies 2022

4 Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies 2022

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

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Short-term health insurance is a policy that is typically one year or less of coverage. This type of insurance is often used when a family or individual is bridging between other full-benefit health insurance policies. Short-term policies differ from more standard health insurance in duration, whether they can be renewed and the coverage they provide.

Best short-term health insurance companies

The best short-term health insurance available is through UnitedHealthcare, which offers a variety of policies with varying deductibles, lengths and other flexibilities.

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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

  • AM Best financial strength rating: A+
  • NAIC complaint index: 1.13
  • Unique value: UHC offers multiple plan options and out-of-network care.

UnitedHealthcare (UHC) short-term health insurance policies are the best option if you are looking for renewable short-term insurance that offers multiple plan options and out-of-network care.

UHC has a good provider network and solid experience in the health insurance industry. The company's short-term policies are underwritten through Golden Rule Insurance Co., a subsidiary of UHC. Both companies have strong financial strength ratings, meaning they should have the ability to pay out policy claims.

We recommend UHC as the best option if you are looking for a policy that offers a variety of deductibles and term lengths and is backed by a financially strong company.

Pros

  • Option to cancel coverage with no penalty
  • Dental add-on coverage available depending on your state
  • Coverage for preventive care
  • Multiple plan options with varied cost-sharing and coverage levels

Cons

  • Only available in 24 states
  • Level of out-of-network coverage can vary by plan
  • Limited to ages 19 to 65

Everest: Best unique benefits

Consider this if you want the cheapest coverage available.
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Insurer details

  • AM Best financial strength rating: A+
  • NAIC complaint index: 0.79
  • Unique value: Everest offers additional benefits not provided by typical short-term health insurance policies.

Everest National Insurance is the best option if you are looking for benefits not typical to short-term medical plans. Along with unique benefits, Everest offers a variety of plans with deductibles ranging from $1,000, to $10,000. As with all short-term medical plans, monthly rates are based on age, health and the cost-sharing options you choose.

Everest provides coverage for wellness visits, emergency care and mental health care — services not typically covered by short-term insurance.

Along with coverage for adults, Everest has plans with wide-ranging coverage for children aged 2 to 25 years. While many short-term plans provide coverage only for dependent children, Everest offers separate child-only plans. This option can be helpful if you need to insure your child during a temporary break in health coverage.

Everest National Insurance began underwriting policies in 1973 and has a strong financial position given its AM Best rating of A+.

Pros

  • Coverage for wellness, mental health, home health and substance abuse
  • Out-of-network coverage
  • 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

IHC: Best customizable insurance

Consider this if a customizable short-term insurance plan.
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Insurer details

  • AM Best financial strength rating: Currently under review
  • NAIC complaint index: Depends on state
  • Unique value: IHC Health Group offers the most customizable short-term medical plans.

Short-term plans from the Independence Holding Co. (IHC) are offered in 35 states through the company's subsidiary, HealtheDeals. Your policy will be serviced by a different company based on where you live, and some states require membership in a non-profit organization called Communicating for America.

Most IHC plans allow policyholders to visit both in-network and out-of-network providers.

Policies through IHC provide some coverage for routine checkups, X-rays and diagnostic testing, which aren't commonly included in short-term plans.

IHC also provides the flexibility to customize your plan by adding options such as preexisting condition coverage.

Pros

  • Coverage for extras such as diagnostic tests and X-rays
  • Out-of-network services covered
  • Some plans cover preexisting conditions

Cons

  • Highly customizable plans may exclude many coverages
  • Some plans have high deductibles

Pivot: Best short-term insurance value

Consider this if you want low-deductible coverage.
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Insurer details

  • AM Best financial strength rating: A+
  • NAIC complaint index: 3.73
  • Unique value: Pivot Health has a large selection of affordable basic coverage options to get you a policy to fit your health and budget needs, with no network requirements.

Pivot Health is a growing company that offers short-term medical plans in 35 states. You can select four levels of coverage to meet your short-term insurance needs. Pivot also offers child-only plans, so you can buy temporary coverage just for your child.

Pivot has no network requirements attached to many of its plans. This means that you can access almost any doctor to receive your care. Pivot deductibles range between $1,000 and $10,000, with medical visit copays from $30 to $60 on certain plans.

Pivot Health has some added 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 up to 30% on eye exams, glasses and contact lenses.

Potential Pivot policyholders should be wary of their customer service reputation. They receive considerably more complaints than average, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Pros

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

Cons

  • No preexisting conditions covered
  • Emergency precertification required within 48 hours after admission

What is short-term health insurance?

Short-term health insurance or short-term medical (STM) policies 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. You may need to undergo a medical exam as well. Therefore, unlike an individual health insurance plan, a temporary health plan may deny coverage based on a preexisting condition or health standards set by the insurer, meaning the plans are not issued on a guaranteed basis.

Pros and cons of short-term medical insurance

Short-term medical insurance can be a good option when you need to fill a gap while awaiting other coverage, such as Medicare, to begin. Short-term insurance is not meant to be your sole insurance over a long term or to cover you for extended periods.

Pros

  • No open enrollment periods
  • Quick coverage at any point in time
  • Lower premiums than full-benefit plans
  • Flexible benefit periods to meet temporary insurance needs

Cons

  • Less coverage compared to full-benefit plans such as individual or employer health insurance
  • Although premiums are generally low, deductibles and coinsurance can be high

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 by state

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

State laws where short-term medical is offered

State
Initial plan duration
Renewals?
Maximum duration
DelawareThree monthsNoThree months
District of ColumbiaThree monthsNoThree months
IllinoisSix monthsNoSix months
Kansas365 daysOne24 months
Louisiana12 monthsYes36 months
MarylandThree monthsNoThree months
Michigan185 daysNo185 days
Minnesota185 daysNo365 days
MissouriSix monthsYes36 months
Nevada185 daysNo185 days
New HampshireSix monthsNo18 months
Ohio364 daysNo52 weeks
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Laws in states where short-term medical is not currently offered

Short-term plans may be sold in the states below; however, at this time, no insurers are offering coverage. If sold, the requirements would be as follows:

State
Initial plan duration
Renewals?
Maximum duration
ColoradoSix monthsNoSix months
ConnecticutSix monthsNoSix months
HawaiiThree monthsNoThree months
Maine364 daysYes24 months
New MexicoThree monthsNoThree months
Rhode IslandNo plans availableNo plans availableNo plans available
VermontThree monthsNoThree months

States where short-term health insurance is not sold

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. In these states, legislation makes the sale of short-term health insurance illegal:

Should 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 a good option to consider in the following scenarios:

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

Frequently asked questions

When should I consider short-term health insurance?

You should consider short-term insurance if you are without coverage for a certain period. For example, you may need a short-term policy if you leave a job and don't qualify for COBRA insurance coverage.

How can I purchase short-term health insurance?

You can purchase a short-term through private health insurance companies any time of year. We recommend first looking at plans offered by UnitedHealthcare.

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. Short-term plans with higher deductibles can have lower premiums. The cost will depend on your state of residence and your health at the time of application. Furthermore, deductibles for short-term plans are often extremely high, which can make these plans costly if you have to pay for services out of pocket.

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. Cost was analyzed by viewing policies offered by each insurer and comparing the monthly premiums to determine which was the cheapest. We found the cheapest was not necessarily the best short-term insurer in many scenarios.
  2. Financial strength and NAIC complaint index data was utilized, as we focused on companies' ability to pay claims and their history of interactions with policyholders.
  3. Policy flexibility was the final factor analyzed and is important especially for short-term plans since these policies are mostly used for bridges in coverage.
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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.