Accidents occur and illness strikes. It happens even in the Golden State. That’s where health insurance comes in. Read on for the latest short-term health insurance information in California.
Best Short Term Health Insurance in California:
- Best Overall in CA for Short Term: eHealth Insurance
- Best for Tight Budgets: HealthNetwork
- Best for Longevity: UnitedHealthcare
- Best for Flexibility: National General
California Health Insurance Laws
Beginning in 2020, health insurance is mandatory in the state of California. Without it, you must either pay a penalty on your state taxes or receive an exemption from the requirement.
Exemptions offered through Covered California, the California version of Obamacare, are given for 3 reasons: religious conscience, affordability hardship and general hardship. Exemptions offered through your state tax return include lack of affordability, incarceration and a short coverage gap of 3 or fewer consecutive months.
The following are some health coverage age requirements in California:
- If you are covered by a parent’s health plan, you may remain on their insurance until you turn 26 — even if you’re married, not financially dependent on your parents, attending school, not living with your parents or eligible to enroll in your employer’s health plan. Once you lose parental coverage, you are eligible to enroll with a special enrollment period, through Medicaid, or through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- Minimum coverage plans can be purchased by those under the age of 30 — and by those older than 30 if they are approved for an affordability or general hardship exemption through Covered California. However, Covered California asserts that the Bronze Plan may be a better bargain in this instance given that its cost is typically similar to the catastrophic option and deductibles tend to be lower.
What is Short Term Health Insurance?
Short-term insurance lasts a limited span – anywhere from a few months up to 1 year. It’s typically used as a bridge between life events, for example, if you’ve aged out of your parents’ insurance but have not yet obtained your own long-term medical insurance. California short health insurance may be an apt choice for you.
Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) deemed short-term insurance inadequate coverage from 2014 to 2018, at year-end 2018 the Congressional Tax Cuts and Jobs Act decided to fold this insurance into its definition of acceptable coverage. The next year federal legislators chose to extend the duration of these plans from 3 months to 1 year.
However, in California, short-term health insurance is not available. This is not an accident. According to SB910, which was made law in September 2018, both renewal and sale of short-term health plans is banned in the state.
While short-term health insurance itself is not available in the state, subsidized ACA plans are still afoot. Some also suggest looking into nonACA-compliant policies such as critical illness and fixed indemnity if you’re having trouble getting affordable health insurance.
Who Needs Short Term Health Insurance?
Wondering how to get health insurance and considering short-term plans? Let’s look into who needs short-term health insurance and whether these options are right for your individual situation.
If you’re finding yourself in a gap between life stages — you’ve just left your job or about to enter graduate school, for example, you may be seeking the best health insurance possible for your needs. Remember, these plans are not legally mandated to comply with ACA guidelines, so don’t expect the same coverage that you might receive from ACA-approved plans.
Short-term health insurance does cover:
- Medical visits
- Emergency and urgent care
- Preventive care
- In some instances, prescriptions
If you’re considering short-term health insurance in California, it’s also worthwhile to weigh the pros and cons. Pros include:
- You can get up to 1 year of coverage and can cancel whenever needed, penalty-free.
- You can choose among many different plans.
- You no longer need worry about filling in the gaps of your coverage.
However, there are a few challenges:
- If you have a preexisting condition, it won’t be covered.
- Most services carry limited coverage.
- Deductibles tend to run higher than ACA-approved plans.
- With little federal oversight, plans vary to a large degree.
Also, unlike traditional plans, short-term insurance is not offered by your employer or through the health insurance Marketplace.
You’ll also want to understand the upfront costs of short-term health insurance when you’re deciding whether it’s right for you. These include:
- Your premium, or the monthly cost of maintaining health coverage
- Your deductible, or your out-of-pocket cost until you meet a monetary limit when paying for services (your plan then helps shoulder the cost burden, known as coinsurance)
- Your copay, or your cost at the time of visiting a doctor
- Your miscellaneous out-of-pocket costs, which may include vision, dental and maternity care
Before committing to a particular plan, be sure to read the associated literature so that you understand what costs you’ll be shouldering and what costs your plan will carry.
When Can You Enroll for Short Term Health Insurance?
If you’ve decided that short-term health insurance is the right path for you, your next step is to figure out where to enroll in a plan. According to the Health for California Insurance Center, you’ll benefit from this decision in certain circumstances:
- You’re just shy of 65 and waiting for Medicare to kick in.
- You missed the open enrollment period or are waiting for Covered California to begin.
- You just started a new job and have not yet enrolled in your company’s health plan.
- You must immediately get health coverage because of your job or school.
- You missed your employer’s open enrollment and are waiting for it to roll around again.
The place to go is Aliera InterimCare, which provides short-term coverage if you need gap insurance. Aliera’s individual plans start at $105 per month for catastrophic coverage and $143 per month for comprehensive coverage; family plans start at $255 monthly for catastrophic coverage and $357 monthly for comprehensive coverage.
Although Aliera is legally considered a Health Care Share Ministry (once only open to strict Christians), it takes applications from anyone as long as they profess to have a belief in God and a desire to make healthcare a priority. Health Care Sharing Plans are not subject to the ACA, which means its members are also exempt from paying a penalty for a lack of health insurance.
If you’re looking for a no-cost, no-commitment quote, don’t touch that dial! You can get that right here.
Best Short Term Health Insurance Options in California
If you’re looking for the best of the bunch, we’ve collected a list of prime candidates for short-term health insurance. Read on to learn more.
1. Best Overall: eHealth Insurance
Carrying more than 3,600 plans from approximately 16 carriers, eHealth Insurance has the power of choice on its side. Carriers include major insurers such as UnitedHealthcare, National General, Companion Life and Everest.
eHealth Insurance also offers a 60% savings with a 1-year short-term plan. The website is easy to navigate and informative, with details presented in informal and direct language. What’s more, eHealth Insurance is a long-term, trusted resource.
2. Best for Tight Budgets: HealthNetwork
While we listed Pivot Health as the most affordable, HealthNetwork also deserves a mention, with short-term plans beginning at just $49 per month. You’ll be able to get a rapid quote and easy enrollment, with plans often beginning as quickly as the following day. This independent online marketplace connects consumers to a bank of short-term health insurance coverage plans as well as dental and vision insurance.
Moreover, you’ll be able to see how much you can save if you buy a bundled insurance package. Since its launch 5 years ago, HealthNetwork has participated in 18 million health insurance decisions.
3. Best for Longevity: UnitedHealthcare
Golden Rule Insurance Company, which was folded into UnitedHealthcare in 2003, has offered short-term health plans for 3 decades. This industry knowledge makes UnitedHealthcare our pick for its knowledge of this complex subject.
What’s more, UnitedHealthcare also offers TriTerm Medical Insurance, a 3-year, short-term health insurance plan underwritten by Golden Rule. Not only does this allow you to bridge the gap between life events, but it gives you a little more time to find a permanent insurance solution. You can apply year-round and even get prescription benefits.
4. Best for Flexibility: National General
National General holds it down for its flexible deductibles on short-term healthcare plan coverage. That flexibility extends to coinsurance, coverage period maximums and out-of-pocket maximums.
Members also enjoy gym discounts and the convenience of telemedicine. Insurance can be purchased directly through an online portal. Plans may be in force as quickly as the day after application.
What Else do I Need to Know?
It’s worth repeating that short-term health insurance policies don’t always cover what you need — especially if that includes preexisting conditions and maternity care. When considering these gap policies, think carefully as to whether they’re right for you on a variety of fronts, including coverage, price and term.