More and more Americans these days are getting smart and savvy about using the Marketplace to find health insurance. And many are tapping into the benefits of short-term health insurance plans off-market, as well. Typically, short-term plans offer super-affordable and low-cost monthly premiums, along with a reduced coverage. Once enrolled, a short-term plan is available to almost everyone for up to one year, with an option for two extensions. You read that right. It is possible to have a low-cost, short-term health insurance plan for three years.
But there’s more to unravel with short-term health insurance. Some states forbid short-term plans. And while your premiums are typically cheap, your out-of-pocket costs could add up quickly. And short-term plans aren’t a good idea for some. Today, we’ll shed some light on short-term health insurance, so you can have a general understanding before you decide what is best for you and your family.
What Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Cover?
There is a robust menu of services that even short-term health insurance plans are required to cover. For those who rarely spend beyond these types of healthcare services in a given year might be a good candidate for short-term plans.
The Affordable Care Act regulates the health insurance providers in the Marketplace and sets benchmarks for preventive services. Even privatized, short-term plans will cover various physician visits or appointments that are considered preventive care. Annual physicals and routine lab work may also be included without charge.
Short-term health insurance plans will also likely provide coverage for trips to the emergency room. This coverage includes urgent care visits for illnesses and accidents. And it may be nice to know that even with a low-cost, low-coverage option like short-term insurance will at least cover those unplanned emergencies.
Differences Among Short-Term Plans
Not all health insurance plans are created equal. And the same applies to short-term plans. Some companies, however, do offer coverage for prescription medications. Others provide cost savings if your doctor or healthcare provider is considered in-network. To discover what a short-term plan will cover, inquire with the company directly and be sure to read the coverage fine print.
When Short-Term Health Insurance Makes Sense
Short-term health insurance coverage isn’t ideal for everyone. But here are a few scenarios that make sense. And usually, it’s an option for those who are unable to leverage health insurance within the Marketplace.
You Need Coverage Between Plans
For anyone facing a lapse in coverage, short-term plans can be a great solution. You have other options usually, including COBRA coverage for some scenarios. But using short-term health insurance like its name implies, for the short-term, can be a cost-effective way to get by between plans.
New Job & Subsequent Waiting Period for Coverage
If you are starting a new job in the near future, or at least anticipate starting a new career, one benefits question you always ask is, “when does my insurance plan kick in?” And in many cases, employers make new hires work through a probationary period, sometimes up to 90 days or longer. For those not wanting to forgo insurance protection for those three months, enrolling in a short-term plan might be a great option.
You’re Young & Relatively Healthy
Short-term health insurance doesn’t cover much, which doesn’t usually matter to those individuals who don’t usually require much in the way of healthcare services or medical attention. For those who may be younger and healthy overall will find short-term plans can be super-affordable ways to get their preventive care covered while having basic emergency coverage and not overspending on unnecessary services. And in some cases, those young and healthy individuals can extend their plan for up to three years.
How to Enroll in Short-Term Health Insurance
If these points make sense to your situation and you’re thinking short-term health insurance is a good fit, you’re ready to move forward. However, you might now be thinking, what’s next? Here’s how you can get the ball rolling with finding a short-term plan for yourself, as well as verifying whether or not a short-term health insurance plan offers what you need.
Year-Round Enrollment Options
Short-term health insurance is only available on the individual market. This is why some states don’t allow these plans, in part due to the lack of ACA oversight for plan affordability and coverage. But it’s only really designed to fill gaps in coverage and is often not considered a true health insurance product. And because they’re available any time of the year makes short-term plans an important option, just in case you need it.
Short-Term Insurance Affordability
Because you’re buying off the exchange, you’ll also have to forgo the premium tax credits that the Marketplace offers and usually applies to monthly premium payments. And you may be limited based on which private providers offer short-term plan options with in-network restrictions. But usually, the monthly premiums are discounted and super-affordable, and for those again, who are health, network providers might not be a concern for you during the short-term coverage period.
Getting All Your Questions Answered with W3ll
Short-term health insurance was, at one point, restricted by the ACA as an option only available to young individuals or people who couldn’t afford any other type of insurance. But the health and wellness times have changed, and so have the rules. The federal government opened the short-term plan availability to anyone as of 2019. But it’s these kinds of changes to plan options that can be confusing to Americans looking for coverage. Browse with W3ll and get answers to your health insurance questions and make the best coverage and financial decision once you have all the options in front of you.
When you’re ready to explore your health insurance options or are faced with a qualifying life event, wondering if short-term plans are a good option, contact W3ll. You can calculate your potential tax benefits, see if you qualify for a special enrollment period, and see coverage options available to you. The W3ll browsing option is entirely free to individuals and can help you make sense of the Marketplace and health insurance landscape.