As health care costs rise, the need for health insurance is a vital one for most Americans. Most have access to insurance plans through an employer or a retirement program but for those who don’t qualify for a plan, there is a solution: temporary health insurance.
Recent graduates, new hires who have not yet completed a probation period, part-time employees, early retirees, recently divorced individuals, unemployed individuals, and students who no longer qualify under a parents’ health coverage plan are just some of those who may seek temporary or short-term health insurance.
Unlike standard group coverage plans, temporary health insurance is often inexpensive and flexible. Most short term options range from one to twelve months, few are available for more than a year. Pre-existing conditions – a health condition previously diagnosed – can limit access to some temporary plans. Many services often require pre-certification before treatment is allowed. Although deductible amounts are often low with temp insurance, it’s wise to make sure that the deductible needs to be met one time only because some plans will require a deductible for each service. That could up the out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatments, even a simple office visit to your doctor. And, short term plans can vary from state-to-state so be aware of your state’s regulations and requirements.
Most short term plans do offer a greater flexibility than many standard health plans but with choice often comes lower coverage or payment for services. Depending on the options chosen, short term health insurance may or may not pay for surgery, blood work, x-ray, hospitilization, and other treatments. Know what is and is not covered.
If you’re between jobs, maintaining your former group coverage can be an option. the 1984 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reduction Act (COBRA) allows qualified employees to continue group coverage for a specific period. Such coverage may be better for your individual needs than temporary coverage so ask if you might be qualified.
These points are the most vital to consider when contemplating short-term, temporary health insurance:
1. Coverage is available in a broad range, from very basic to total coverage that includes catastrophic care
2. If you’re willing to bank on good health, coverage for ONLY catastrophic medical care is available. I.e., such coverage wouldn’t be valid on an office visit for an illness but would cover a major accident or serious illness.
3. Short-term coverage is available for no less than thirty days but no more than 365 days or one year.
4. If you suffer from a pre-existing condition (including but not limited to high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, etc), you may be denied temporary health coverage.
5. Know the disadvantages of short-term health care coverage and remember that a ongoing plan is best in the long run.
Be wise when considering short term health care coverage. Ask for quotes from more than one insurance company or agent. Consider your options and plan for the future, whether that includes a new job, marriage, or other life change that can affect insurance. Knowledge is the key to finding the temporary health care coverage you may need that will work for your individual needs.