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Life is unexpected and you never know what unforeseen incidents might come your way. Picture this: You accidentally injure yourself, need immediate medical attention and you’re at the hospital worrying about how you’re going to come up with the funds to pay an incredibly high hospital bill.
It sounds scary, doesn’t it? Luckily, health insurance makes sure you have a cushion if you face such situations. But what if you can’t afford health insurance at the moment or missed the enrollment period? Well, there’s always the option of short-term health insurance.
What is Short-Term Health Insurance?
Short-term health insurance starts from a 1 month-long period and lasts up to 1 year — some states even offer 3-year plans. It provides coverage for basic things like emergencies, common illnesses and injuries. Furthermore, it requires you to pay only a small monthly premium as compared to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans.
Short-term health plans generally don’t provide benefits such as mental health care, annual check-ups and cost for prescription drugs (although some companies do offer this). However, they do come in handy should you face an accidental injury and are not enrolled in an ACA plan.
So, short-term health insurance can prove to be a lifesaver (literally) in many situations. It’s always safer to have some financial protection instead of none.
Reasons to Buy Short-Term Health Insurance
Who should buy short-term health insurance, and why? Below are some circumstances when purchasing short-term insurance is the best option.
1. Coverage Gaps
These plans are typically beneficial for certain situations. For instance, you couldn’t enroll during the enrollment period of a regular health insurance plan. In the event that you lose your job and also your health benefits, you can cover basic medical expenses with this plan while looking for a new job.
But what if you spend a couple of months or so without insurance? In case of an unforeseen emergency, you could have to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills or possibly go into debt.
The best thing about a short-term plan is that it’s flexible. There are no restrictions over how long you should get coverage for, nor is it binding. You can adjust the duration according to your needs and cancel coverage if you don’t need it anymore.
Say you’re between jobs for months and know you already have some medical issues that need attention, you can enroll for short-term coverage. You can choose the minimum period of 30 days, lasting typically up to 1 year. It’s customizable to your situation and needs.
3. Less Expensive
While being without insurance may save you from paying a monthly premium, getting short-term coverage is the smarter option. This is mainly because this type of coverage is considerably cheaper than a standard health insurance plan.
What could be your average monthly premium? The average cost for short-term health insurance in the U.S. is $100–$200, significantly lower than ACA-compliant coverage.
Although you may be charged high deductibles, you can rest assured that should there be a medical emergency, your insurance will have you covered. For this reason, short-term health plans are a smart and economical option during coverage gaps.
4. Quick Enrollment
With standard health insurance plans, it usually takes about 1-2 months before your insurance plan becomes applicable. Processing, evaluating and approval with this type of coverage takes several weeks.
However, that’s not the case with short-term plans. The reason why anyone buys a short-term plan is so that they can get insured immediately while waiting to enroll in a standard health coverage plan.
These plans take 1-2 days before they are approved.
Under the ACA act, standard health insurance should offer 10 necessary health benefits. But what if you don’t need those services often or at all, like maternity or mental health care?
Short-term health insurance offers coverage for emergency room visits, care for routine illnesses, hospitalization and outpatient care. Moreover, some plans also cover prescription drugs. If that is the most you expect to face, then short-term plans are a good option for you.
Another useful thing about this type of coverage is that you can choose your deductibles, duration and services from a variety of different plans offered by many companies.
How Can I Apply for a Short Term Health Insurance Plan?
Applying for this type of insurance is easy. First, visit the company’s website and read through their terms and policies thoroughly. Next, fill out their online registration forms to answer some necessary questions.
After this, you will be able to compare different plans and choose the one best suited for you. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully and know what you’re paying for.
It may be tempting to live without insurance for some time and save yourself from having to pay the monthly premium. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your life and the lives of your family members are most important, and this is why you should never compromise on health care and its insurance.
During times when long-term health coverage plans are not a viable option for you, short-term health plans cover your basic medical needs.