Short-Term Health Insurance Reviews: Best Providers, Pros and Cons

Updated: November 9, 2022
short term health insurance

Short term health insurance is precisely what it sounds like—a policy that offers short-term protection, often lasting from a few months to a year. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not regulate short-term health insurance, so plans are not required to offer the basic health benefits required by the ACA. Short-term plans are also exempt from covering pre-existing diseases. (These benefits include inpatient and outpatient hospital care, mental health services, and prescription drug coverage.) The plans are intended for healthy individuals and typically feature restrictions on the amount members would pay for particular services.

Although certain states have stricter regulations regarding duration, short-term health insurance plans can have initial periods of up to 364 days and be renewed for up to three years. In contrast to the open enrollment period for marketplace plans, which is only available once a year, you can enroll in this short-term coverage at any time during the year.

The following groups, according to Josh Archambault, CEO of Presidents Lane Consulting in Massachusetts, frequently benefit from short-term plans:

  • Previously uninsured people
  • People who are unemployed or waiting for employer-based insurance
  • People who are leaving a welfare program
  • Teenagers abandoning their parents’ plans
  • Recent grads from colleges
  • Veterans who are leaving the military and heading to education or a job
  • People who were unable to enroll in coverage because they missed the open enrollment period
  • Seniors who are not yet Medicare-eligible


Who Qualifies for Short term Health Insurance?

Anyone who can pass the medical underwriting requirements of an insurance provider can purchase a short-term health insurance plan. This usually means being under 65 years old and in reasonably good condition. Underwriting describes the process an insurance provider uses to assess your health in order to determine whether to offer you coverage, how much it will cost and what exclusions it will include.

There are 11 states where short term health insurance plans are not available either because they have outlawed them or because they have adopted standards that are so rigorous that insurers have chosen not to offer plans there. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont will no longer offer short-term coverage as of 2021.


How Can You Apply?

You don’t need to do anything to be eligible. Simply enroll and pay for coverage.

Very limited medical underwriting is used during the application process for the majority of short-term health insurance plans. They typically only ask a few yes/no questions about serious medical concerns and will provide coverage to anyone who can do so.

Short-term plans frequently use “post-claims underwriting,” meaning that when you submit a new claim, the insurer will frequently check your records to ensure it isn’t related to a pre-existing condition. If so, they can reject the claim or even terminate the coverage.


How Much Is Short term Health Insurance?

In general, major medical plans are more expensive than short-term health insurance. These plans often cost between 50% and 80% less than conventional individual market coverage.

The cost of a short term health insurance plan will change depending on your age, where you live, and the type of coverage you choose. The pricing for short-term policies can start at a little under $10 per month, but plans with more comprehensive coverage are more expensive.

One factor that makes this sort of health insurance appealing to certain people is affordability.


What Is Covered by Short Term Health Insurance?

Short-term health insurance typically pays for unanticipated medical needs, including hospitalization and operations. But they are frequently basic plans with low maximums, which could leave you with a mountain of debt—studying the details of your plan and understanding what it covers before enrolling is crucial.


How to Pick Your Ideal Short Term Health Insurance Plan

Plans for short-term health insurance are not appropriate for everyone. They can be expensive and don’t usually cover much ground. They can, however, assist you in preventing financial exposure in the event that you require medical care if you have a brief lapse in coverage and no other options.

Choosing the ideal short-term plan cannot be easy, but we’ve detailed the essential steps you can take, from determining your needs to weighing your options according to the most important factors.

Consider how long you’ll need coverage realistically.

Plans for the short term might range in duration from three months to three years. You can choose the appropriate plan duration if you know how long your coverage gap will remain, such as if you’re starting school or a new work at a specific period. If you’re undecided, you might want to go with extended coverage to avoid being caught without insurance.

Remember that short term health insurance is designed to handle one-time needs. It could be better to look at Marketplace plans if your coverage gap could last for more than a few months or if you are unsure of how long it will last.

Consider your medical history to determine the likelihood that you’ll require medical assistance.

Companies that provide short-term health insurance are not obligated to provide all of the fundamental medical services that Affordable Care Act-compliant plans provide. Verify the coverage details of any plan you’re thinking about. Pay close attention to how much these products will cost you under each plan if you are aware that you have unique needs, such as needing access to a particular type of specialist or medication. Choose only those insurance options that offer the coverage you know you’ll require. Consider more comprehensive coverage if you have a complicated medical history or a high likelihood of needing care because you might incur high out-of-pocket costs with a short-term plan.

Examine your travel preferences and schedule.

Some policies might not provide coverage while you are away from home. You should look for a plan with out-of-network coverage if you frequently travel or have travel plans in the near future. Plans with indemnity coverage are likely to give you the greatest freedom to visit medical professionals wherever you may be. HMOs, EPOs, and network plans, which limit your options to providers the plan has partnered with, may be better avoided. These may appear more affordable, but if you require services outside the network, the cost will probably be substantially higher, if it is covered at all.

Determine the amount you are willing to spend.

As a general rule, allocate 10% of your income to health insurance. Depending on where you reside, that might not be feasible because state-by-state variations in monthly health insurance premiums exist. Don’t just consider the monthly payment when determining what you can afford to spend on health insurance. Consider the annual deductible, an amount you have to pay out-of-pocket yearly before your insurance begins to pay benefits, as well as other expenses such as copayments and coinsurance, which represent the percentage of medical costs that you must pay upfront until you reach your spending cap. Consider what you’re getting for your money as well. The coverage-to-cost ratio, often known as the value of the coverage you receive with each plan, is considered in our ratings.

You might be comfortable choosing a lower premium, higher deductible plan if you have savings and don’t have any serious health risks or problems. But if you would struggle with significant out-of-pocket expenses, spending a little extra each month to feel secure in your coverage might be worth it.

Consider all of your alternatives.

Low-premium health insurance may appear more affordable, but it may end up costing you more if it doesn’t provide the coverage you require. You might be able to pay less for better coverage thanks to the enhanced subsidies that are now available on the health insurance marketplace.


Should You Purchase Short term Medical Insurance?

People who require short-term coverage gaps to be filled might consider short-term health insurance. Short-term insurance might be a decent, reasonably priced choice, for instance, if you recently graduated from college and know you’ll be starting a job with benefits in a few months. You can also be working now, but there is a waiting time before your benefits start. Only choose this path if your general health is good and you have few health hazards.

Short-term insurance is not the best option for persons with more critical medical needs or who have gone long periods without insurance. These plans are not obligated to provide benefits like maternity care or coverage for prior diseases that other health insurance policies must.

You need coverage immediately because you lost your job.

Short-term health insurance could be a way to make sure you are covered. At the same time, you search for a longer-term solution if you find yourself suddenly without a job or health insurance coverage. You are unable to afford COBRA (which allows you to keep your employer’s health insurance but requires you to pay the full cost).

You are between coverage periods.

Short-term insurance can be a relatively quick and affordable option to protect yourself if you have a clearly defined gap in coverage, such as after you get to graduate from college or graduate school but before you start a job.

There is a waiting time before you can receive benefits from a new job or become eligible for additional benefits, including Medicare.

If you need to wait until you are qualified for benefits from your employer but have benefited already, short-term health insurance can be a viable alternative. In this situation, you can make plans for that particular time period knowing that you will be covered.


The Top Companies for Short Term Health Insurance in 2022

UnitedHealthcare is the best overall.


  • Provides the greatest possibilities for short-term plans
  • Most plans give coverage for generic medications.
  • Coverage outside of networks


Because UnitedHealthcare has so many options, you have a better chance of finding a short-term plan that works for you. There are options for plans with low deductibles, low coinsurance, and low out-of-pocket maximums. The range of deductibles is $1,000 to $15,000. UnitedHealthcare provides a wide range of alternatives, from the least expensive to the most expensive, to meet diverse needs.


National General Accident & Health came in second.


  • Highest coverage limit possible
  • The majority of states
  • Minimum out-of-pocket amounts


  • Longest average wait time
  • Some plans have high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Cheaper plans are typically not worthwhile.


Cheap application costs, out-of-network coverage, low copay, and a number of plans with generic prescription drug coverage are all provided by National General Accident & Health. However, a lot of the company’s less expensive solutions are not worthwhile. However, its more expensive plans offer some of the best value for the money. Only one type of short-term plan is available; some plans have higher out-of-pocket expenses and longer wait times.


Independence American Insurance Company offers the most customization.


  • Most program choices
  • There are many term lengths available.
  • There is neither a waiting period nor a cost.


  • Out-of-network coverage is not available under all plans.
  • One plan type despite several available plan options.
  • Maximum out-of-pocket expenses may be substantial.


The term lengths offered by Independence American Insurance Company are varied. The smallest period is six months, which can be more than you require. These policies are more easily accessible than others because they have no waiting periods, no application costs, and the most affordable plans for up to $2 million in coverage. The majority of insurance provides coverage for generic prescription drugs.


The best option for at-risk people is National General Accident & Health.


  • Some plans have low out-of-pocket spending caps.
  • The highest coverage limit possible
  • Minimal coinsurance



  • High deductibles and out-of-pocket expenditure caps with some plans
  • Longest average wait time
  • Budget planning is not worthwhile.


For those with complicated medical demands, National General Accident & Health’s low out-of-pocket spending caps, low coinsurance, and high levels of coverage present some excellent choices. However, beware of exorbitant (up to $25,000) deductibles, which may result in you having to pay a significant amount out of pocket if you require services.


Everest Reinsurance Company is the best choice for students or the unemployed.


  • Lowest permitted out-of-pocket expenditures
  • Adequate protection for the price
  • Brief waiting period for everyone


  • The states with the fewest availability
  • Long wait times for cancer patients
  • No coverage for generic prescription drugs


Everest Reinsurance Company provides good options for students and other persons who require short-term coverage, such as those between employment, with policies ranging from three months to a year. Its plans offer good coverage for the price, out-of-network coverage, low out-of-pocket limitations, and low deductibles. Plans with low coinsurance and out-of-pocket limitations frequently have higher monthly premiums and annual deductibles. Everest Reinsurance Company strikes a nice balance between low out-of-pocket and coinsurance payments and reasonably priced premiums for those on a tight budget.


Everest Reinsurance Company has the best short-term travel health insurance.


  • You can receive care practically anywhere with indemnity coverage.
  • Low deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums
  • As little as three-month terms


  • Limited to the fewest states
  • Only one sort of short-term plan is offered.
  • No coverage for generic prescription drugs


Everest Reinsurance Company policies can be excellent choices for travelers because they have a short general waiting period and maturities as low as three months. Travelers can access medical treatment while away from home, thanks to out-of-network coverage and the design of the indemnity plan.

UnitedHealthcare is the best option for generic prescription drug coverage.


  • The majority of policies cover generic medications.
  • There are numerous options for plan types, term durations, and out-of-pocket expenditure caps.
  • Brief waiting period for everyone


  • Most expensive application fee
  • Maximum out-of-pocket spending restrictions
  • The most pricey short-term plan available


Because the majority of its plans include generic prescription drug coverage, our choice for the top overall short-term health insurance provider also wins for best generic drug coverage. Additionally, its plans offer reasonable value, making the cheapest options worthwhile. Some UnitedHealthcare plans include modest out-of-pocket spending caps and deductibles ranging from $1,000 to $15,000.


Independence American Insurance Company is the best without an application fee.


  • Free of charge to apply
  • There is no wait time
  • Lots of plan choices


  • The six-month minimum plan duration may be too long for some users.
  • Several types of plans, but just one plan option
  • Not all plans offer coverage for out-of-network providers.


Independence Insurance Company provides the best solutions if you don’t want to pay the price for short-term insurance. Plans with coverage of up to $2 million are reasonably priced, and roughly half of them include coverage for generic prescription drugs.



Which organization offers the finest short-term health insurance?

UnitedHealthcare was named the top overall short-term health insurance. It is widely accessible and provides a wide range of alternatives. Most of its plans provide coverage for generic prescription drugs, unlike some other companies.

Because it offers policies with minimal coinsurance, low application costs, out-of-network coverage, and a number of plans with generic prescription drug coverage, National General Accident & Health is our choice for overall runner-up. Its more expensive plans offer some of the finest value for the money.

What exactly is short term health insurance?

Due to the fact that it doesn’t cover the same broad range of services as other plans, short-term health insurance is frequently referred to as “thin coverage.” Pre-existing diseases, maternity care, and mental health are typically not covered, while emergency department visits, some prescription medications, and doctor visits might be covered. It is intended to be used as gap coverage for individuals without complex medical needs during brief, defined durations.

How do you pick a short term health insurance policy?

Short-term plans, like any health insurance, include a number of variables to take into account, including monthly rates (premiums), deductibles, coinsurance, and coverage options. Consider what is most important to you. Is it the monthly or potential costs associated with using healthcare services? Do you know where you can obtain medical care or how much red tape you must endure? Do you take a particular drug or go to a specific doctor? You can focus your search by selecting only those options that meet these requirements.

How much is short term health insurance?

The price of monthly premiums might range from $20 to more than $1,000. But when thinking about how much a plan might cost, don’t only focus on the monthly charges. You can get a clearer idea of your overall financial exposure by looking at the deductible, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket spending restrictions. Examine the coverage limits as well because anything above those will be at your expense.

Will short term health insurance cover pregnancy?

Maternity coverage is often excluded from short-term health insurance plans since pregnancy is seen as a prior condition.


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