Temporary health insurance, also known as short-term health insurance, can provide affordable medical coverage when you are between jobs, waiting for employer benefits to kick in, or need to bridge a gap in coverage for other reasons. With skyrocketing healthcare costs, finding budget-friendly options is key.
There are several types of temporary health plans available, each with their own pros, cons, and limitations to consider before enrolling. Evaluating your specific situation and coverage needs is essential to choose the right plan.
This guide examines the most common temporary health insurance options, tips for selecting coverage, frequently asked questions, and additional resources to help you navigate this complex landscape.
Types of Temporary Health Insurance Plans
Short-Term Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance, as the name implies, provides medical coverage for a short duration spanning anywhere from 30 days to just under one year, depending on the state and policy guidelines. These plans can be purchased anytime but are often used to bridge gaps in coverage lasting for a defined period of time.
- Typically the most affordable type of temporary health insurance
- Easy to apply and receive quick approval, sometimes in less than 24 hours
- Ideal for covering gaps between school and work, changing jobs, waiting periods, or coordination with future Marketplace enrollments
- Provides basic protection for unexpected injuries, illnesses, or emergency medical care
- Range of deductible and copay options to customize level of coverage
- Not ACA-compliant and does not satisfy the individual mandate requirement for continuous comprehensive medical coverage
- Pre-existing conditions often excluded from coverage
- Preventive care, maternity, mental health services may not qualify for benefits or have limited coverage
- Strict eligibility guidelines regarding age, application timing, extensions, and length of renewals
- May include dollar caps or limited number of covered doctor visits and prescription drugs
- BlueCross BlueShield
Marketplace Plan Extensions
Rather than purchasing a new short-term or catastrophic policy, some existing Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace enrollees qualify for limited open enrollment periods permitting brief extensions of current coverage. These provide more comprehensive benefits than non-ACA-compliant plans.
- Guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Ten essential health benefits including preventive services, prescriptions, and mental health
- Federal subsidies and tax credits may offset premium expenses for qualifying enrollees
- Ability to keep same network providers if plan does not change
- Strict qualification rules and eligibility verification required
- Short maximum extension duration of up to 3 months
- Total length still caps at less than 12 months
- Higher premiums than short-term coverage for equivalent duration
- Need to re-apply and confirm special enrollment eligibility every year
- State-based ACA Marketplace exchanges
COBRA Continuation Coverage
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows employees separating from companies with 20+ workers to continue employer-sponsored health benefits post-job loss in most cases. This prevents coverage disruption but can come at a steep price without an employer subsidy.
- Extends existing plan benefits for up to 18 months
- Guaranteed eligibility and no medical history review
- Covers pre-existing conditions
- Access to same provider networks through former workplace plan
- Very expensive, employees pay 100% insurance premium includingportion previously covered by employer
- Complex notifications and application timing guidelines
- Limited period cannot be extended or renewed
- Employer must provide proper notifications and forms
Eligibility and Availability
- Verify qualifications through former employer’s Human Resources department
- Complete forms and submit payments directly to company benefits administrator
Limited Benefit Insurance
One step above basic hospital indemnity and accident plans in terms of comprehensiveness, limited benefit health insurance does not meet ACA standards but offers financial protection for essential wellness, preventive visits, doctor appointments, and prescription medications on an affordable basis.
- Budget monthly premiums, usually under $100 per individual
- Low and no deductible options to limit out-of-pocket costs
- Covers essential preventive and primary care before deductible
- Guaranteed approval regardless of health conditions
- Easy online enrollment and claims processing
- Strict annual and per-service limits capping total benefits
- Hospitalization and surgery usually excluded
- Typically unavailable for applicants 65+ years old
- Does not satisfy individual health insurance mandate
- Unlikely to adequately cover pre-existing condition treatment
- HCC Life
- Golden Rule Insurance
Tips for Choosing Affordable Temporary Health Insurance
- Carefully assess coverage needs. Do you require a full range of health services? Are you primarily seeking preventive care and basic doctor visits? This shapes suitable plans.
- Compare multiple quotes. Rates can vary dramatically across temporary insurance providers for similar offerings.
- Read limitations closely. Temporary plan restrictions leave applicants underinsured. Ensure you know what is excluded.
- Check for hidden costs. Beyond premiums, look out for copays, deductibles, and coinsurance fees that drive up out-of-pocket spending.
- Weigh extensions vs. renewals. Extending an existing plan may provide fewer gaps in coverage but limits portability. Renewals involve new applications.
- Tap federal and state subsidy programs. If available, tax credits and government assistance can lower premium expenses.
- Use as a bridge to comprehensive insurance. Temporary policies work best as short-term solutions while pursuing more robust alternatives like employer group health benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which temporary health insurance has the lowest cost?
It depends on your situation, but short-term medical plans often have lower monthly premiums than other alternatives. Within short-term offerings, rates can vary significantly across providers. Use online quotes to find and compare your cheapest options.
Can you get temporary Medicaid?
Medicaid programs help provide medical benefits to low-income individuals and families. Eligibility requirements must still be met to qualify, and approved coverage spans a full year, thus Medicaid does not offer temporary insurance. Certain Medicaid managed care plans may allow enrolling and leaving month-to-month.
What is considered a break in health insurance coverage?
Going longer than 63 days without a plan that qualifies as minimum essential coverage results in a gap that insurance companies can bill as a break in coverage. This period resets upon enrolling in a new health plan, meaning you need to maintain continuous coverage without lapsing every 63 days.
Can I get my same health insurance plan back after a gap?
It depends on the length of the gap and the plan type. Job-based policies must allow employees rehired within 30 days to re-enroll on the same terms. Meanwhile, Marketplace insurers can make you completely reapply after 63 days, though your benchmark plan option should remain accessible if still available.
Which temporary health insurance qualifies for COBRA extension?
Only employer group health plans used for active workers can qualify for temporary COBRA continuation coverage after separating. Self-purchased plans including short-term policies cannot extend benefits under COBRA laws following a loss of eligibility.
What do I do if my temporary health insurance denies my claim?
First, carefully review why your claim was denied by checking statements from your insurer. See if you agree this matches the policy coverage terms or if there seems to be an error. If you still feel the denial is unwarranted, file a written appeal including reasons it should be covered under your plan provisions.
For more guidance on finding, comparing, and enrolling in temporary medical insurance options, utilize these valuable online resources:
- Leading medical coverage marketplace and comparison platform
- Educational articles, custom quotes, plan selection support
- Options for short-term, student, dental, and international insurance
- Federal ACA health insurance exchange
- Details on qualifying life events for special enrollments
- Subsidy calculators and online application assistance
- Planfinder tool shows Marketplace options by location
- Independent consumer guide to health insurance
- Cost data on options like COBRA and short-term plans
- Policy and qualifying event resources by state
- Help with claims, medicare, HSAs, and plan selection
COBRA Continuation: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra
- Department of Labor website explaining COBRA coverage
- Qualification rules, notifications, duration limits
- Guidance on appealing insurer eligibility decisions
- Links to publications, contacts, and other federal resources
Finding affordable temporary health solutions can feel frustrating but viable options exist regardless of employment status, income level, age, family size, or health conditions.
Drawing from this guide examining popular medical stopgap alternatives along with coverage selection best practices, frequently asked questions, and trusted resources, the path to adequate and budget-friendly insurance can take shape quickly.
Whether needing to bridge a gap between school and work, moving to a new job, or coordinating applications for long-term Medicaid or Marketplace offerings, temporary health plans provide a Gain vital financial protection and peace of mind while transitioning to more comprehensive and secure coverage down the road.