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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:
|State||Initial plan duration||Renewals?||Maximum duration|
|Delaware||3 months||No||3 months|
|Illinois||6 months||No||6 months|
|Kansas||365 days||One||24 months|
|Louisiana||12 months||Yes||36 months|
|Maryland||3 months||No||3 months|
|Michigan||185 days||No||185 days|
|Minnesota||185 days||No||365 days|
|Missouri||Six months||Yes||36 months|
|North Dakota||185 days||One||12 months|
|Nevada||185 days||No||185 days|
|New Hampshire||6 months||No||18 months|
|Ohio||364 days||No||52 weeks|
|Oregon||3 months||Yes||3 months|
|South Carolina||11 months||Yes||33 months|
|South Dakota||6 months||No||6 months|
|Utah||363 days||No||363 days|
|Washington||3 months||No||3 months|
|Wisconsin||365 days||Yes||18 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