Best Short Term Health Insurance in Washington

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Without risk, there’s no reward, right? That may be true in some cases. But, there’s no reward for risking your health. That’s why it’s a good idea to have health insurance. Kaiser-Permanente, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Cigna comprise the best health insurance in the United States. But, if you find that you’re temporarily without health insurance and need coverage for a short time, you’ve got options. 

Get Short Term Health Insurance in Washington
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Best Short Term Health Insurance in Washington:

Washington Health Insurance Laws

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans are required to have health insurance, however, there’s no penalty if you don’t. 

In Washington, you’ve got some options for health insurance coverage:   

  • Your parents can keep you on their health insurance plan until you turn 26.
  • If you’re employed full-time, you can get health insurance through your employer.
  • If your employer doesn’t offer insurance, you’re in-between jobs or you cannot afford insurance, you can buy individual health insurance and secure federally-subsidized insurance through the health insurance Marketplace. 

Are you new to getting health insurance? Breathe easy. We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to get health insurance

What is Short Term Health Insurance? 

Short term health insurance in Washington is a little different than most of the rest of the country. By federal law, short term insurance can last up to 36 months. Laws in Washington are more strict. Short term health insurance:

  • Must not exceed 90 days
  • Needs to meet minimum benefit standards
  • Cannot be obtained during the ACA annual open enrollment period, which is Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 
  • Cannot be renewed after the 90 days
  • Cannot be sold to a person who’s had 3 months of short term health insurance in the past 12 months

Because the laws are more restrictive in Washington, there’s only one short term health insurance provider.  

Who Needs Short Term Health Insurance?

Life is unpredictable. Accidents happen. Illnesses catch us off-guard. So, it’s not a good idea to be without health insurance. Even for a short time. Medical expenses can add up quickly. You don’t want to be caught holding a pile of bills wondering how you’re going to pay them. So, short term health insurance is a good option for you if you’ve got a gap in your health insurance coverage. Reasons you might have a gap in your coverage include:

  • You’ve left or lost your job. 
  • You’ve started a new job and health insurance doesn’t immediately begin.
  • You’ve turned 26 and your parents’ health insurance can’t cover you. 

When Can You Enroll for Short Term Health Insurance?

Created to fill a gap in the event of a coverage lapse, short term health insurance cannot be purchased during the ACA open enrollment period for coverage in the following year. So, if late this year (2020) you were looking to purchase short term health insurance for the first 3 months of next year (2021) you need to purchase it on Dec. 16 or later.

Where Can You Enroll for Short Term Health Insurance? 

Currently, LifeMap is the sole short term health insurance provider in Washington. If you’re going to be without health care benefits, you might consider a combination of 90-day short term insurance coverage and individual dental and vision plans. A combination of short term health insurance, dental and vision benefits would mirror what you would receive from many employers. It also likely mirrors the benefits you receive as a dependent on your parents’ insurance if you’re under the age of 26. 

If you decide that piecing together full coverage by purchasing 3 policies is right for you, you’ll need to enroll in these plans separately. Below are more details on LifeMap as well as options for dental and vision benefits.  

Best Short Term Health Insurance Options in Washington

So many health insurance options exist and it can be a bit daunting. You may wonder if you can even afford health insurance if you have to pay out of pocket. Rest assured, health insurance isn’t out of your reach. You can get affordable health insurance.

But, if you’re looking to fill a void between the coverage you received for an employer or your parents until you can enroll in your new company’s plan, short term health insurance is a good strategy. As mentioned, there’s only one short term health insurance option in Washington. Here’s a look at LifeMap and a few options for both dental and vision benefits.

1. Best Short Term Health Insurance: LifeMap

LifeMap, Washington’s lone short term health insurance provider, offers affordable plans to help fill the void until you’re able to get traditional health insurance coverage. Importantly, it only covers injuries and illnesses that happen during the policy time frame, which is 90 days in Washington. So, if you fall ill or are injured before your policy goes into effect, your care isn’t covered.

Coverage includes hospital care, emergency care, X-rays and lab tests, breast and pelvic exams and prostate cancer screening. Things not covered by LifeMap short term insurance include pre-existing conditions, routine physical exams, massage therapy and dental treatment or exams. Coverage is set, but you do choose your deductible and copayments. Opting for higher deductibles and copayments can bring your monthly premiums down.  

LifeMap also offers an affordable dental and vision plan. LifeMap is rated an A- by AM Best. AM Best reviews insurance companies and publishes ratings based on its financial strength and stability.  

2. Best Dental Plan: UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare (UHC), through Golden Rule Insurance Company, offers flexible dental plans. Its plans start around $25 per month. Expect to get preventive care like annual checkups, cleanings and fluoride treatments.

You can get preventive care immediately and the coverage amount isn’t susceptible to meeting a deductible amount. Other coverage offerings include fillings, emergency treatment and root canals. Those services are subject to copays and deductible amounts. You can take advantage of these services after the waiting period. UHC understands that people and their needs are different. So it offers many plans for you to choose from.

You can get dental coverage from UHC as a stand-alone product. Or you can add vision benefits for a combined policy if you need both dental and vision benefits. AM Best gives UHC an A rating. UHC earns an A+ rating from the BBB.

3. Most Flexible Dental Plan: Smylen

Smylen is a sort of dental on-demand service. It sees itself as the Priceline of the dental industry. Smylen works on the premise that dentists aren’t busy enough. So, it takes advantage of dentists’ open appointment times to bring you services at a reduced rate. You simply visit its site to select a treatment, enter your location, select a dentist who fits your budget, then schedule your appointment.

You pay the fee upfront to lock in your rate and confirm your appointment. So, if you’ve aged out of the comfort of your parents’ benefits or if you’re waiting for your job benefits to begin, Smylen provides you access to discounted dental services that you can tailor to your needs, budget and schedule. Smylen receives an A+ from the BBB.

4. Best Vision Plan: VSP

You can get vision benefits starting around $13 per month with VSP.  VSP provides access to an independently certified network of eye doctors and fab eyewear. Its plans tout affordability and low out-of-pocket costs. VSP’s standard plan consists of a $15 exam copay, $25 basic lens copay and a $150 frame or contact allowance. Of course, the allowance doesn’t mean that your frames need to fall at or under $150. The allowance means that you get $150 toward frames or contacts.

If you spend more, you pay the difference. So if the frames that suit you best cost $200, you’re on the hook for $50. All of its plans include laser vision correction discounts and a 20% discount if you’d like additional glasses. VSP is a not-for-profit vision insurance company. Members get exclusive savings opportunities. VSP’s rating with AM Best is an A. The BBB rates VSP an A+.

5. Most Affordable Vision Plan: UnitedHealthcare

UHC has provided personal health insurance for more than 75 years. Protect your eye health for as little as around $10 per month with UHC vision insurance through Golden Rule Insurance Company. UHC provides single focus plans if you’re looking for stand-alone vision benefits.

Or, you can combine your vision benefits with your dental benefits to streamline your benefit provider services. UHC gives you 2 plans to choose from. The major difference between the plans is coverage for lenses and contacts. One plan allows you to get lenses or contacts every 12 months. The other plan allows you to get lenses and contacts every 12 months.

And, you don’t need to stick to a predetermined network for coverage. As long as you’re willing to pay the difference between what your plan allows and the final cost, you can seek services out of network. As noted above, UHC earns an A from AM Best and an A+ from the BBB.

Get the Reward Without the Risk 

Protect your quality of life by protecting your health. Accidents and illnesses happen when you least expect them. Health insurance helps you manage life’s surprises. Taking care of the business side of life, like securing health insurance, gives you peace of mind. Save the risk of trying a new restaurant or sport. Reap the rewards by securing your well-being.

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