Cheap Temporary Medical Insurance – Best Short-Term Health Plans

Short-term health insurance coverage is  affordable, and available in every state. These policies are specifically offered when you only need benefits for less than a year, or miss your state’s Open Enrollment  As the nation’s premier website for affordable medical plans, we  review all of the available  options, and provide you with the  lowest  rates in all areas. Temporary plans offer stop-gap benefits that can quickly become effective, and can also be customized to meet your specific situation. Comprehensive (office visits and prescriptions included) and catastrophic (major medical only) are available.

We realize that every individual or family has unique needs, and a particular time frame that they need coverage, especially when someone loses dependent status. Although COBRA and Marketplace options may be offered, alternative plans sometimes are more cost-effective, especially if you have a lapse in coverage. However, typically, for Seniors, it is not a viable option. Many affordable Medigap options may be offered that offer many more benefits. Applicants that are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, generally, should not apply for short-term plans, since other more cost-effective options are available.

When you only need a policy for 1-12 months (or possibly more), our goal is to find the lowest cost plan that gives you the benefits you need. Only the most-respected companies are used, and each carrier is registered, licensed, and approved in your state of residence. If we wouldn’t use the plan ourselves, or for our own family members, you won’t see it either. There are many questionable “discount” companies we will not recommend, since they don’t deliver on the promises that they make to consumers. We know you need a safety net for unexpected claims and that’s the type of contract we look for.

Who Needs Short-Term Coverage?

Temporary benefits are designed for anybody that is without healthcare coverage…especially if they are in transition. Plans are available to individuals, families, the self employed or anyone that is uninsured. This type of  policy is ideal for any US resident that is on COBRA, currently unemployed or between jobs, waiting for other medical coverage to become effective, or a recent school graduate. Occasionally, applicants waiting to be approved for Medicaid or Medicare benefits may benefit by these types of policies. However, once those benefits are active, other than supplemental plans, additional policies are often not needed.  NOTE: Most carriers do not offer temporary coverage to applicants that have reached age 65.

Although the creation of the  “Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare) created federal subsidies for needy households, and eliminated pre-existing exclusions, it also established annual “Open Enrollment” periods (November and December). However, if you miss the Open Enrollment deadline, and don’t qualify for a special approved exemption, you’ll have to wait another 9-12 months to apply for guaranteed coverage again, unless you become eligible for an employer-provided plan. A short waiting period of 90 days (or less) may be required before new Group benefits begin.

This situation, which frequently occurs, is when a short-term policy is recommended. Although not a substitute for a conventional comprehensive plan, it will provide major medical benefits for the period of time between the OE periods. However, unlike an official Exchange contract, temporary policies do not cover your pre-existing conditions, whether it’s as serious as diabetes or cancer, or something relatively minor, such as asthma, allergies, or acid reflux. If you develop a condition after the policy has been issued, your treatment will be covered as long as the policy is active. However, limitations may be placed on certain treatment and prescription drugs.

Also, the 10 “Essential Health Benefits,” that are mandatory coverage for Marketplace contracts, are not all contained in a short-term policy. For example, although prescriptions, ER, and hospital expenses are included, maternity and pediatric dental coverage are often excluded. However, the elimination of these benefits is one of the reasons temporary coverage is so economical. The annual maximum of covered benefits is also lower. Instead of unlimited provided benefits, caps of $250,000 to $2 million are likely.

The Typical Application Process

Find the cheapest temporary health plan.

Short-Term Medical Coverage Is For Individuals And Families

The standard  application is usually completed in less than 10 minutes. There are very few medical questions and it can be completed online or by mail/fax. If the application is filled out online, processing will be much quicker. In some states, you can receive instant approval.  Most carriers also allow the applicant to complete an online link that a broker has provided. Effective dates may be requested approximately 30-60 days in advance, if needed.

National General, a large reputable carrier, offers this feature in many parts of the country. UnitedHealthcare, through its subsidiary “Golden Rule,” can also issue and approve policies very quickly. Many other companies across the US also have very competitive pricing. Additional smaller carrier that offer policies include IHC, Everest Prime, LifeShield, National General, and Standard Life.

Most temporary  insurance plans can be purchased in increments of three months. Billing is flexible as policies can be paid with an annual lump sum payment or monthly installments. If the policy needs to be canceled early, most companies offer a pro-rated refund on the unused coverage. Since this type of plan is designed to protect a need for only a few months, it should not be used if  benefits are needed for more than one year. Before the initial three-month period has expired, you can apply for additional coverage. For example, if the policy period is from January 1 to March 31, in late March, you can apply for a policy with an effective date of April 1.

Policies are often approved within 24-48 hours since there are very few medical questions to answer and physicals are not required. Credit scores, income, and family medical history do not affect the premium you pay.  If you have major health conditions, you could be denied and you would have to seek a more expensive “Open Enrollment” plan. Other reasons for denial include taking medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, any form of diabetes or heart ailment.

Coverage And Benefits

Unexpected injuries and illnesses form the basis of each policy.  Typical coverages include inpatient hospital and outpatient services, emergency room and urgent care, ambulance and home care (subject to policy limits) and diagnostic services. Some short term health insurance plans also include office visit and prescription drug plans, although a deductible may apply. Or, by paying an extra premium, limited preventive or primary care physician (pcp) visits can be added. Generally, specialist visits are subject to a deductible or coinsurance. and a limit to the number of covered office visits may be applied.

Once the specified deductible has been met (usually between $250 and $10,000) 80%-100% of the medical expenses will be paid by the policy. The remaining balance (if any) is paid by yourself until the total maximum out-of-pocket expense limit is reached. Lifetime maximum limits are usually between $500,000 and $1 million. To reduce premiums, you can choose a 30% or 50% coinsurance option. Another option that reduces the premium, is to select the “deductible per claim” feature, instead of  “deductible per policy period.”  By selecting this option, you will not meet the deductible cap after your first claim.

NOTE: Some policies only offer $250,000 of protection, so a prolonged chronic illness could require treatment that gets close or exceeds that limit. Also, if you are receiving long-term treatment (counseling, medications, procedures, transfusions etc…), if the initial period of coverage expires, you will have to re-apply for an additional term of benefits. If this occurs and your treatment began during the first policy period, your new policy may not be approved, and other options may not be available.

However, since the Open enrollment period for Marketplace coverage typically begins in November (for January 1 effective dates), if your temporary plan does not terminate until after January 1, you can secure guaranteed coverage.  Premiums will probably be much higher, unless you qualify for a federal subsidy.  If State “high-risk” pools become a reality (2018 or 2019), plans may be available at any time, although premiums will be very high.

Items Not Covered

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Cheap Temporary Medical Plans Are Often Approved In A Day

Although premiums are low, this type of policy is not designed to cover preventive benefits including routine physicals and well care visits, dental or vision expenses and long-term health care. Depending on the policy, your deducible may apply to each claim, or each cause. An “each clause” temporary medical insurance plan can result in substantial out of pocket expenses if multiple claims occur. Reducing the deductible will lower your possible maximum out of pocket expense.

But lower deductibles can cause the cost of the temporary health insurance policy to rise. Also, pre-existing conditions are generally not covered and the renewal of the policy is not guaranteed. For that reason, this concept works best when the exact time frame of needed coverage is known. However, if your current policy expires and there have not been significant changes in your health, you may apply for an additional policy.

Of course, if a heart attack or cancer is currently being treated,  another policy form would have to be used. That’s why it is extremely important to coordinate temporary plan expiration dates with the beginning of Open Enrollment periods in your state. Many major carriers, such as Aetna, Cigna, and Humana, do not offer  temporary policies in all states.

Short-term health plans have increased in popularity by about 30%, mainly due to low premiums, and avoiding high-cost Affordable Care Act options. Consumers that qualified for large federal subsidies were typically better off with Exchange policies. Also, since almost any physician or hospital can often be chosen, it provides better flexibility than Exchange plans. The expansion of product availability is expected by 2019.

 

Current Short-Term Health Insurance Rates In Selected Areas

Prices shown are most current monthly rates for 40 year-old male

Richmond, VA

$43 – LifeShield $5,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$47 – IHC Group $5,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$53 – IHC Group $2,500 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$69 – IHC Group $1,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$73 – LifeShield $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$96 – UnitedHealthcare $5,000 deductible, 30% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

 

Nashville, TN

$44 – National General $5,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$47 – IHC Group $5,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

$54 – IHC Group $2,500 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

$67 – National General $1,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$78 – IHC Group $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

$91 – IHC Group $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

 

Pittsburgh, PA

$49 – IHC Group $5,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$54 – IHC Group $2,500 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$66 – LifeShield $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$73 – IHC Group $1,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$89 – LifeShield $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$115 – IHC Group $5000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

 

Milwaukee, WI

$37 – Everest $5,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$47 – Everest $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$68 – Everest $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$73 – National General $5,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$83 – Everest $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

$123 – UnitedHealthcare $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

 

Kansas City, MO

$38 – LifeShield $5,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$48 – LifeShield $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$50 – LifeShield $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

$71 – National General $2,500 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$85 – LifeShield $1,000 deductible, 0% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$94 – Everest $2,500 deductible, 30% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

 

Denver, CO

$34 – Everest $5,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$43 – Everest $2,500 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$61 – Everest $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage

$67 – LifeShield $2,500 deductible, 0% coinsurance, and $1 million maximum coverage

$69 – LifeShield $1,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance, and $750,000 maximum coverage

$107 – National General $1,000 deductible, 50% coinsurance, and $250,000 maximum coverage