Going too long without any kind of health insurance can put your family at both medical and financial risk. If you missed Open Enrollment, you might want to consider an affordable short term insurance plan. We’ll show you exactly how to get health insurance in Maryland outside of Open Enrollment with a short term plan.
Get Short Term Health Insurance in Maryland
Tip: compare 2-3 companies
The Best Short Term Health Insurance in Maryland:
- Best Overall in Maryland: National General
- Most Affordable in Maryland: Independence American
- Best for Critical Illness Coverage: UnitedHealthcare
- Best for Plan Shopping: eHealth Insurance
Maryland Health Insurance Laws
These are some health insurance laws to know in Maryland:
- Maryland doesn’t have its own health insurance mandate. This means that if you don’t have health insurance coverage, you won’t face a tax penalty.
- You can buy short term health insurance plans in Maryland, but your plan cannot have a term longer than 3 months. It’s against the law for an insurance provider to allow you to renew a Maryland short term health insurance plan.
- By law, insurance companies offering short term health insurance in Maryland must extend coverage to mental health services. This benefit is excluded from short term plans in almost every other state.
What is Short Term Health Insurance?
Short term health insurance is a type of temporary protection that can help you fill a gap in insurance coverage. If you missed Open Enrollment and cannot sign up for a long-term insurance plan, a short term plan can help you get coverage. Most short term plans offer coverage for preventive care, doctor visits and emergency care. The specific services and treatments that are covered under your plan will vary depending on your plan and insurance provider choice.
Shopping for a short term insurance plan is similar to shopping for an Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plan. Each month, you’ll pay your insurance provider a set dollar amount called a premium. Your premium is due every month, even if you don’t see a doctor or go to the hospital during any particular month. One of the biggest draws of short term plans is their low premiums — you can often find coverage for under $100 per month with a short term plan. However, this affordable health insurance option also comes along with lower benefits. We’ll discuss what’s covered under short term insurance plans in later sections.
If you do need to use your insurance, you’ll need to first meet your plan’s deductible. Your deductible is a set dollar amount you must spend on your healthcare costs before your insurance kicks in and starts covering your bills. Short term plans usually have high deductibles when compared to long-term plans.
Once you meet your deductible, you must only pay your coinsurance. Your coinsurance is a percentage of your medical care bills that you’re responsible for beyond your deductible. For example, let’s say that you’ve met your deductible and you receive a doctor’s bill for $1,000. If your plan has a 20% coinsurance rate, you’d need to pay $200 out of this bill. Your insurance would cover the remaining $800.
This continues until you hit your maximum benefit limit. This is the maximum amount of money that your short term plan will payout. Your benefit might be as high as $2 million or as low as a few hundred thousand dollars depending on your plan choice.
Short term insurance isn’t a substitute for a long-term ACA-compliant plan. This isn’t just because you can only hold a single short term plan for a maximum of 3 months under Maryland law. It’s also because most short term plans exclude coverage for some of the most common health conditions.
Short term insurance plans don’t need to meet the minimum requirements set by the ACA. This means that they have much more freedom to pick and choose what’s covered and what isn’t. According to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 71% of short term plans don’t cover any kind of prescription drugs, and 100% of short term plans don’t offer maternity coverage.
Short term insurance plan providers also don’t need to follow other regulations set by the ACA. For example, your short term plan provider can set a maximum lifetime benefit limit that sets a cap on the total or yearly coverage you can use. Your short term plan provider can also deny you coverage for preexisting conditions and drop you from coverage for getting pregnant — practices that are now illegal under the ACA.
If you decide that a short term plan is right for you, be sure to read the terms and conditions to fully understand what your plan covers. The last thing you want is to pay your premium each month — only to find that your insurance doesn’t cover you when you need to use your benefits.
Who Needs Short Term Health Insurance?
Short term health insurance isn’t for everyone. It’s not a permanent solution to your healthcare needs. Before you buy a short term plan, be sure that you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for an ACA-approved plan.
SEPs give you access to the ACA Marketplace outside of Open Enrollment. You can qualify for a SEP if you turn 26 and lose coverage under your parents’ plan, gain citizenship, adopt or have a baby and more. To learn if you qualify for a SEP, begin by creating an account at Healthcare.gov here. After you answer a few questions about your circumstances, you’ll gain access to the Marketplace if you qualify for a SEP.
In the Marketplace, you’ll be able to shop ACA-compliant long-term health insurance plans. These plans include no maximum lifetime benefit and guaranteed coverage for at least the 10 essential benefits covered by the ACA. You cannot be denied coverage for a preexisting condition under the ACA, and your insurance provider cannot drop you from coverage unless you lie on your application or stop paying your premiums. These health insurance plans are long-term coverage solutions that provide you with a higher level of protection.
If you don’t qualify for a SEP, you may want to bridge your gap in coverage with a short term plan. You should only plan to keep this insurance until Open Enrollment begins and you can choose a long-term plan.
When Can You Enroll for Short Term Health Insurance?
Unlike ACA-compliant plans, there’s no enrollment period for short term plans. You can get a quote online and sign up for insurance at any point in the year. Remember that as a resident of Maryland, however, your short term insurance plan cannot last for more than 3 months. If you anticipate a gap in your coverage coming up, be sure not to overlap your insurance plans.
Where Can You Enroll for Short Term Health Insurance?
Almost every health insurance company now allows policyholders to sign up for coverage online. Before you choose a plan, you’ll want to compare all of your options. Start by getting a quote online. Just answer a few questions about where you live and your insurance needs to learn a little more about plan options available to you.
Best Short Term Health Insurance Options in Maryland
Now that you understand how short term insurance works and who needs it, it’s time to take a look at your plan options in the Old Line State. Let’s take a look at some of the best health insurance providers currently offering short term insurance in Maryland.
1. Best Overall in Maryland: National General
National General is a short term health insurance provider offering affordable medical solutions for Maryland residents. With National General, you can find a plan with a premium as low as $46 per month or with a deductible as low as $2,500.
National General is one of the only short term insurance providers in the country to include maximum out-of-pocket limits on all of its plans. Its coinsurance rates are also exceptionally affordable — you’ll pay just 20% on most plans. With up to $1 million worth of coverage and a wide range of plan options, National General is our top choice for Maryland insurance.
2. Most Affordable: Independence American
If you’re looking for the most affordable way to fill a gap in coverage, be sure to get a quote from Independence American. It offers plans in most parts of Maryland from as little as $35 per month. When you sign onto an Independence American plan, there are no waiting periods and no application fees to worry about.
You can quickly find up to $2 million in coverage, and some of its plans even offer up to $25,000 worth of coverage for preexisting conditions. While Independence American’s coinsurance rates are higher than competitors, it’s overall an excellent choice for anyone looking to bridge a coverage gap without overspending.
3. Best for Critical Illness Coverage: UnitedHealthcare
Critical illness insurance is a type of protection that pays out a lump-sum of cash to help you cover a major medical expense resulting from a covered condition or illness. Critical illness isn’t exactly the same as short term health insurance, but it can offer you exceptionally affordable coverage for major accidents.
UnitedHealthcare offers critical illness insurance in Maryland for as little as $6 per month. You can get $10,000 to $40,000 worth of coverage through these plans. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to protect yourself against a major illness (like a heart attack or cancer), UnitedHealthcare’s critical illness protection might be right for you.
4. Best for Plan Shopping: eHealth Insurance
eHealth Insurance isn’t a short term insurance provider because it doesn’t service or offer plans. However, it does make it exceptionally easy to compare your plan options. Just enter your ZIP code, age, gender and tobacco usage information into eHealth’s comparison tool and you can view plan choices available to you.
eHealth clearly lays out each plan’s premium, deductible, maximum benefits and other information so you can compare plans at a glance. Simple, intuitive and comprehensive, eHealth is an excellent place to begin shopping for short term insurance.
Finding the Right Insurance Plan for You
With so many options, how can you possibly tell which insurance provider is right for you? The first step is to get a few quotes from competing insurance providers. Create a table with each plan’s benefits, coinsurance rates, premiums and deductibles to get started. Staying organized and understanding all of your options will help you know that you’re making the right choice when you do select a plan.