UPDATED: Sep 10, 2013
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An unexpected injury or illness can be financially devastating to a person without insurance. Even a simple emergency room visit can become prohibitively expensive for an uninsured person, and hospitalization and surgery can easily bankrupt someone who is not financially prepared. This is why carrying health insurance is so important and why insurance solutions exist for people who may not be willing or able to purchase a complete individual policy.
For many people, health insurance is provided by an employer. If the employment comes to an end, insurance benefits are likely to cease as well. In this situation, the customer may wish to purchase a short-term health insurance policy to help fill the gap. This policy can be obtained immediately and used for a few weeks or months until a more permanent health insurance solution can be found.
As its name would suggest, a short-term insurance policy is meant to be a temporary solution. As such, it’s designed to provide medical coverage for unexpected costs and emergencies, not routine care. Unlike a standard insurance policy, which will pay for preventative care, vaccines and examinations, short-term insurance pays only for sudden and unexpected expenses.
What Will Short Term Insurance Cover?
The specifics of any given policy will depend on the insurer, but in general there are certain things you can expect a short-term insurance policy to cover:
- Emergency room visits for true emergencies
- Office visits relating to illness or injuries
- Outpatient surgery
- Inpatient surgery and hospital stays
- Ambulance rides
- Some prescription drugs
You will usually be allowed to keep your current doctor, but most insurance companies will offer a discount if you use a provider within the insurer’s preferred network.
Short Term Health Insurance Cost
Because short-term health insurance policies are limited in scope, they tend to be more affordable than the standard health insurance equivalent. This is valuable as many of the people who need these policies may be between jobs or otherwise feel strain on their incomes.
Additionally, short-term health insurance policies tend to have high deductibles. This keeps the monthly cost down and discourages customers from receiving unnecessary medical care. Common deductible amounts for short-term insurance are $1,000, $3,000 or $5,000.
Who Should Consider a Short Term Policy?
- People who are between jobs
- Students and recent graduates who no longer receive insurance from their parents
- Temporary and seasonal workers
- Workers waiting to receive benefits from an employer
- Non-residents visiting the U.S. for an extended period of time and who have a U.S. address
If you need a more long-term insurance solution, it may make sense to purchase a catastrophic health insurance policy or standard high-deductible policy instead. These affordable insurance solutions will offer many of the same benefits as short-term insurance without as many limitations.