Short Term Health Insurance

Major medical insurance isn’t always an option for some.

If you’ve missed the deadline for open enrollment, for example, or you just can’t afford the premiums and deductibles that come with a traditional health insurance policy, then short term coverage might be a good alternative for you. As the name implies, short term health insurance – abbreviated to STHPs for short-term health plans – is temporary medical coverage. These plans are ideal for people in transition, whether you’ve changed jobs and need something to fill the gap between employer-sponsored coverage, you’ve just graduated college or been dropped from your parents’ plan, or you’ve retired early but don’t qualify for Medicare yet.

Before 2016, STHPs could last from 30 days to a full year in some states, but that has since changed. Now, short term health policies run from 30 days to under three months. Starting in October, short term plans will once again to an (almost) annual product and will allow coverage for 364 consecutive days with two additional renewal terms. They cover limited benefits, don’t include pre-existing conditions and aren’t guaranteed-issue or renewable. Unlike major medical policies, STHPs include maximum lifetime payout limits, and you must meet a deductible before the insurer will pay its portion. Plus, STHPs require you to see in-network providers. If you go outside the network, the plan won’t cover your care unless it’s a true emergency.

Despite some obvious drawbacks, short term health insurance makes sense for certain people. Premiums are much lower for STHPs than for major medical policies, they cover a variety of benefits depending on the plan you choose, and they offer peace of mind if you don’t have major medical insurance but need some kind of protection in place. Combined with other policies, like standalone critical illness protection, short term medical plans can form one part of a decent private benefits package.