Living without health insurance coverage can be a major risk. An unexpected injury or illness could find you in debt after incurring medical bills running to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of dollars. To make sure you remain covered when transitioning between major insurance plans, it’s recommended that you take out short-term health insurance.
Short-term health insurance has also gained increased popularity as it has now become the last resort for many Americans who remain uninsured as they fall outside the coverage accorded by the Affordable Care Act during the open enrollment season.
These short-term insurance plans were originally intended to offer temporary backup to regular health insurance for several months. Short-term insurance becomes a lifesaver when you have to pay high medical bills arising from an unexpected illness or accident but in most cases preventive (regular doctor visits are not covered.
Shop Widely and Compare the Benefits
Their availability all year-round and no waiting periods have made short-term health insurance particularly appealing when someone suddenly or temporarily finds themselves uninsured. You can actually begin benefiting from coverage the next day once you qualify. When evaluating your choices, shop widely and compare the deductibles, copay, coinsurance, and other factors such as coverage length.
A good short-term insurance plan will allow you to opt for those features that best suit your budget and needs. Remember, that when you get a higher deductible it means your premiums will be lower. Also, choose a short-term health insurance plan that allows you to drop out at any time without incurring any penalties.
Buy Directly from Insurance Companies
Insurers might have a wider range of health insurance policies available or displayed on their websites than what you actually see on their respective state exchanges. Most of them will allow you to compare plan details, access even more detailed information, and apply online. Of course, unless you know which insurance company offers the best options, you won’t know where to start.
When shopping for your short-term cover, experts recommend that you work with a reputable and reliable insurance provider that has a strong network of hospitals and doctors. The available network discounts can help in getting you access to more affordable short-term health care.
Many short-term insurance plans often partner with big national networks and they also offer discounted health care when using their participating providers. In addition, when you work with a more-established insurance provider that has a large network of doctors, it places you in a position of getting better-negotiated rates than when you go for an insurer with just a handful of health care providers.
High-Deductible (Catastrophic) Plans
If you are not anticipating using your health plan much, a good way to go is high-deductible plans that come with lower monthly premiums. Premiums for high-deductible (catastrophic) plans might be much lower than the standard insurance plans although the deductibles are normally much higher.
Under the Affordable Care Act, you become eligible for low premiums high-deductible plans if you are still under 30 years of age or for hardship exemption if over 30. Aspects covered under hardship exemptions include bankruptcy, homelessness, or recent eviction.
A catastrophic or high-deductible plan entitles the insured to 3 visits to your primary care doctor annually, prescription coverage as well as other essential health benefits. Because what is covered by your short-term insurance is limited, you are likely to use it less often compared to regular health insurance. So, a higher deductible could actually help save you more.
Limited Indemnity Insurance
Sometimes, because of a family event, moving, or job change, you might need to find a suitable way of filling the gap in your regular health insurance coverage. Also known as Limited Med, this is an insurance policy that offers individuals and families restricted health benefits with low premiums.
Although limited indemnity insurance resembles a number of the essential components of a major insurance plan, they are not designed to actually substitute them. Rather, they help in complementing your main medical insurance policy in the short term.
Limited indemnity plans are not Affordable Care Act regulated and are, therefore,
ACA compliant. They help by adding extra coverage to your existing plan and provide a good alternative if you cannot afford premiums charged by major medical plans.
Get an Insurance Broker’s Help
Navigating the marketplace, however, can be quite confusing and you need to carefully compare all the available options. Having a knowledgeable person to assist with the legwork can make a big difference.
Because brokers are not employed by insurance companies, they are your friends. They are usually paid by their respective insurance companies and so this cost is not passed on to you.
Although some may charge you a fee, in general, most of their income comes from commissions earned from insurance companies.
When were are out of work, sick or moving house, we aren’t always in our best mindset. Certainly, discounts and waivers are not our top priority when faced with a medical emergency as getting medical help is top on our minds.
However, even under such circumstances, we can still negotiate and ask the health insurance provider for discounts. Health care facilities, doctors, and billing departments might even welcome negotiations particularly if your offer includes an aspect that simplifies their work.
Sometimes, changes in your life circumstances will find you without the security of regular, long-term health insurance coverage. This is when short-term insurance steps in and fills the gap as you wait to secure long-term coverage. However, some changes introduced recently are worth noting.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recently released some proposed changes on short-term health insurance based on an Executive Order from President Trump. This will allow short-term health plans to be made available for longer periods and they also become renewable.
Instead of only covering a brief period (typically max of 3 months), you can now extend the short-term coverage to 364 days. In essence, what this means is that people can actually start using these temporary plans as their actual and long-term health insurance—an aspect the Obama administration wanted to avoid.