What is short-term health insurance?
Short-term health insurance plans are significantly less comprehensive than the Obamacare plans you’ll find through the Marketplace. They are also not compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning they do not offer the same consumer protections or guaranteed levels of health coverage.
These plans vary in the length of coverage they provide by state. At the most, though, they can provide just under a year of coverage.
They are also not sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace. This is because they do not count as minimum essential coverage and do not cover certain essential health benefits. Insurance companies sell short-term plans directly to consumers. If you’re interested in enrolling in comprehensive, subsidy-eligible coverage, grab our free step-by-step guide to enrolling in Marketplace health insurance here.
Short-term plans and pre-existing conditions
These short-term health plans typically do not cover pre-existing conditions. This means no coverage of things ranging from mental health disorders to cancer to diabetes. Short-term health plans do not have to cover preventive care for free, either. Most don’t cover maternity care or emergency care. Some short-term plans may cover prescription drugs, and others do not.
No Marketplace cost savings
You cannot get a premium tax credits for a short-term health insurance plan. You will also not qualify for other cost-sharing measures for these kinds of plans. Keep in mind that cost savings are only applicable to the ACA plans that are offered on the Marketplace.
Looking for coverage right now?
Experts do not advise using short-term health insurance plans to replace regular health insurance because short-term plans do not provide the consumer protections laid out by the ACA and do not cover many essential services. In a small number of circumstances, a short-term plan might be better than nothing—if, for example, you do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and you want some form of coverage until you can sign up for a Marketplace plan during Open Enrollment Period. However, it’s important to carefully read any documentation so that you know exactly what will be covered by your plan.
If you’re interested in enrolling in comprehensive health insurance coverage from the Marketplace that includes all of the consumer protections and essential healthcare services laid out in the Affordable Care Act, you can shop for plans here, call a Consumer Advocate at (872) 228-2549, or enter your zip code below to see available plans in your area.
Marketplace plans can be quite affordable, and can be even cheaper than short-term insurance plans if you qualify for subsidies. Most consumers who use HealthSherpa pay $35/month or less for their monthly premiums.
Other affordable options
You may qualify for other coverage options. If you are low income, consider applying for Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). You can apply for Medicaid or CHIP at any time, even outside of Open Enrollment, and if you qualify you can enroll and have your health coverage start almost immediately. For Medicare, those who are eligible can apply when they turn 65.