Short Term Health Insurance EXPLAINED
Table of Contents
- Short Term Health Insurance
- Who is Best-Suited for a Temporary Plan?
- How to Get Short Term Plans
- When Does the Insurance Start?
- Benefits of Short Term Health Insurance
- Short Term Health Insurance Resources
Short term health insurance is the type of medical coverage purchased independently by people for a short period of coverage - i.e. a month to a year. Within the "short term" label, plans can be purchased for as little as 30 days or as much as one full year. Any longer than a year, however, and you're looking at a basic individual plan rather than a short term plan.
There may not seem to be many advantages to having such a short period of insurance at first, but upon further examination, you may find that a short term plan actually provides more detailed coverage in terms of doctor-patient relationships and even the type(s) of care and procedures covered.
With most private insurance plans, people's hands are tied a bit with PPOs and other payment structures that are formulated to save the insurance companies money instead of providing ultimate freedom of choice to plan holders. Short term insurance works differently. Anyone with a shorter health insurance plan will have more freedom - the ability to choose hospitals/doctors, treatments, medications and more.
Of course, deductibles and copayment systems are still in place like with other insurance plans out there, but short term insurance does provide a lot more freedom for the individual, and thus provides a lot more peace of mind.
There aren't any major differences in short term health insurance and long-term plans in terms of what they're designed to do. Ultimately, a temporary plan provides coverage for any hospital expenses you incur if ill. The list of things covered includes medical procedures, room and board, medications, miscellaneous expenses, and both in and outpatient care.
Temporary insurance will abruptly terminate, and most plans already have a termination date built in. As you can imagine, there are some negatives with this type of insurance. Obviously, no one really knows when they're going to get sick. A month or year's worth of coverage may not seem very assuring to anyone. And, of course, companies providing short term insurance plans still operate like a business and applicants will be subject to the preexisting condition clauses and other factors.
Although, any short term plan is typically easier to get no matter who you are. Since you will not be on this plan for any significant length of time, the "risk" you pose to an insurance company is greatly lessened, and thus you won't be put under the proverbial microscope when applying.
Who is Best-Suited for a Temporary Plan?
As mentioned previously, there's not much insurance with a short term plan. In actuality, this type of plan is designed specifically for individuals who have lost their insurance or who are looking to change insurance carriers. The short term coverage allows them to stay insured while they find a new plan. It's not always an easy process, and that's why these plans last up to a year.
An individual doesn't have to be in the process of changing insurance providers, however. But for most individuals seeking insurance, they're seeking a lifelong plan for themselves and their dependents (children and/or spouses).
The most common type of individual to pick up a short term insurance plan is someone who is in the process of switching jobs or who has been let go from his or her current job. Since most people employed in the United States have health care plans through their employers, switching or losing employers can create a big gap in coverage.
Unfortunately, the health care you have with your employer will automatically terminate if you lose that employer. What your work tax dollars are purchasing is a pooled plan and is given only to individuals within the company's employ.
Short term plans are picked up when the old insurance is lost, but they're also kept for a probationary period.
When an individual starts a job with a new employer, he or she is not automatically granted a new health care plan. In order to be eligible for a new group insurance policy, an individual must go through a certain length of time with the employer.
Once an individual switchers employers and is able to get back into a group policy, the short term insurance is easily terminated with notification.
Another type of individual who might greatly benefit from a short term policy is a student or an individual first entering the workforce. In today's highly competitive climate, you just never know if you're going to be able to land that job. However, you still don't want to go without insurance if at all possible. A short term insurance plan is a good safety net for anyone looking for coverage until they can get settled into a career.
There are some worries about this type of policy - namely the speed in which someone acts to find coverage. Take, for example, a failed attempt at getting into a group policy for whatever reasons (although extremely rare if you go through the probation period). Once this happens, people are ineligible for even short term plans. The worry from the companies is that short term plans will be abused instead of used as safety nets and temporary shields.
How to Get Short Term Plans
Luckily, picking up a short term insurance plan is about an easy a process as you'll have to go through in the health insurance world. In fact, some people have a harder time finding a good car insurance plan than they do finding a temporary health plan.
That being said, however, the process is still closely similar to that of a long term plan. With the lion's share of temporary plans and companies providing them (there are always exceptions in the insurance world, however, so remember to shop around), your eligibility is determined by answering a few questions.
Some of the questions you might encounter when applying for a short term insurance plan include:
- A: Are you currently covered by a health care plan that is not set to expire prior to the date of your short term coverage?
- B: Have you previously been declined by any health insurance company due to health reasons?
- C: Are you or your spouse pregnant at the current date?
- D: Have you received treatment for any of the following in the past few years: HIV/AIDS, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, blood disorders, or alcohol or drug dependency?
Obviously, answering a yes to any of these abovementioned questions may result in your short term health insurance request being declined. Health insurance is still a business, and if you have a preexisting condition that requires expensive care, are pregnant, or have been declined previously, then you'll be considered too high-risk, even for a temporary plan.
Luckily, however, the list here is relatively short and there aren't many more reasons for any company to deny your coverage if you're only seeking it in the short term.
When Does the Insurance Start?
With regular health insurance plans, you can wait weeks or even months for the coverage to take effect. You have to wait through what is referred to as an "underwriting" process, while all the little kinks and such are worked out with your carrier. It's a complicated process that you do not have to concern yourself with if you have short term coverage.
Your health history is reviewed in much greater detail with full length health plans, and everything will be put under a microscope and examined.
Generally speaking, most temporary insurance plans will take effect within a 24 hour window. Even if you have a long health history and have some "signals" on your application that cause concern, the longest you should have to wait is two weeks for a short term plan to take effect.
Benefits of Short Term Health Insurance
Unfortunately, there's only so much information available to give general knowledge of any short term plan. With all 50 US states providing some type of coverage through hundreds of insurance companies, learning the ins and outs of every policy would require you to read an entire encyclopedia volume.
However, there are some universal basics that we can discuss when referring to benefits you are going to receive via a short term insurance policy.
First up are the physician services you'll receive. Your temporary plan is going to provide full coverage for all inpatient and outpatient care provided to you via doctors/physicians, surgeons and assistant surgeons, anesthesiologists, consults, and others in the medical industry.
Any care you receive will be paid for so long as it doesn't cross the "allowable amount" line. However, there's really no limit set in stone when dealing with short term plans. They will generally cover every expensive-other than the deductible-that is deemed usual and customary.
Next, diagnostic and lab services are covered in your temporary plan. These include a long list of procedures you may have to endure, like X-rays, mammograms, Pap tests, and other specialty tests. Like the previous benefits, you will be covered so long as these procedures are deemed necessary.
It's not automatic that your short term plan will cover the following, but if you want to be protected as much as possible, then you need to make sure your plan covers a wide range of other professional services: Dental services (dental insurance), a registered nurse, diabetes supplies, radiation and chemo, emergencies, physiotherapy, and treatment for Diethylstibestrol (DES).
It's up to you to review any policy you decide to choose. What you're looking for, of course, is the amount of coverage you'll receive and also the amount of procedures and benefits provided to you. Your short term plan should be able to cover every type of expense incurred as a result of medical care. You can never be too safe, and something left out of your policy like pre-admission testing or registered nursing could come back and bite you.
Other types of benefits should be provided to make sure you're fully covered for all ambulance services. Usually, these types of services are covered by the state, but due to a failing economy, the patient is sometimes charged for these services, so you need to make sure your insurance picks up the tab.
Prescription drugs are also a concern. Of course, you shouldn't expect these drugs to be offered after the expiration date of your insurance plan, but as long as you're on the plan, they should be covered in full.
Mental health services should also be covered. These types of services are going to vary state to state, just like your insurance plan will in general, but you should make sure that your insurance policy covers mental health benefits like examinations, therapy and medications at the very least.
Short Term Health Insurance Resources
When one is looking for health insurance choices, there are a vast variety to choose from. Most people choose the health insurance from their employer or their spouse's employer. But, there are many unique lifestyle situations people face and that requires unique health insurance choices. Short term or temporary health insurance may be an option for some.
Whitehouse health insurance check - very good!
Short-term disability insurance helps protect you against total loss of income if you are unable to work due to pregnancy, disabling injury, or illness. LANS automatically provides short-term disability coverage for all eligible employees.
Learn more about short-term health insurance, a low-cost option for people who are temporarily without health insurance coverage.