Short Term Medical FAQ'S

What Is Short Term Health Insurance?

Short term insurance plans, sometimes called temporary health plans, help provide health coverage for a limited time.1  See short-term plan options and apply today.

Is a Short-Term Plan the Right Health Insurance Choice for Me?

Short Term or Temporary health insurance plans may make sense if you are:

  • Rolling off your parent’s insurance

  • In between jobs

  • Without health insurance, have missed Open Enrollment and do not have a qualifying event for Special Enrollment

  • Waiting for your Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage to begin

  • Waiting for benefits to begin at a new job

  • Waiting for Medicare

  • Needing a temporary alternative to COBRA insurance

  • Losing coverage following a divorce

  • Under 65 and in good health

In these situations and others where you find yourself temporarily lacking health care coverage, choosing a Short-Term health insurance plan may be just the security you need to get you to that next stage of your life.

How Soon Can I Get Covered?

As early as the next day after you apply in many cases.

Do I Need to Buy Short Term or Temporary Health Insurance During a Certain Enrollment Period?

No. You can apply for Short Term or Temporary health insurance at any time. This is different from Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage, also known as Obamacare, which you can buy only during Open Enrollment each year or during a qualified Special Enrollment time.

Do Short-Term Insurance Plans Meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) Requirements?

No. Short Term plans are not ACA, or Obamacare, health plans. While both ACA and Short Term health insurance plans cover major health events in your life, there are important differences.

ACA health plans are guaranteed issue, meaning you cannot be denied coverage based on preexisting conditions. Also, ACA health plans are required to cover 10 essential health benefits:

  1. Doctor visits for illness and injury and other outpatient care (ambulatory services)

  2. Emergency services

  3. Hospitalization

  4. Maternity and newborn care

  5. Mental health and substance use disorder services

  6. Prescription drug coverage

  7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (relearning to walk after a stroke and improving ability to speak without an impediment)

  8. Laboratory tests and services

  9. Preventive and wellness care

  10. Pediatric services (including both oral care and vision care)

In contrast, Short Term health insurance is not required to cover all of these benefits, so plans can vary in what they cover. Also, Short-Term insurance plans typically do not cover preexisting medical conditions. You must apply and answer a series of medical questions to determine your eligibility for these plans.

Can I Cover My Family with Short Term Insurance?

Yes, in many cases, you can cover spouses and dependents with Short Term insurance. Note: State variations do apply. In some states, you may not be able to include spouses and dependents. And in states where you can cover them, all family members will be subject to the same series of medical questions to determine if they are eligible for the plan.

Can I Avoid Federal ACA Tax Penalties with a Short-Term Health Insurance Plan?

Short-Term health insurance is not “minimum essential coverage” as defined by the ACA. As of January 1, 2019, there is no federal tax penalty for not having minimum essential coverage.

However, tax penalties may still vary at the state level. Consult your tax advisor for more information.

How Do Short Term Medical Insurance Plans Handle Preexisting Conditions?

Short Term medical insurance typically does not cover preexisting medical conditions. The definition of preexisting condition varies by state, but, in general, Short Term health insurance plans exclude coverage for conditions that have been diagnosed or treated within the previous 2 years.

If you have an existing medical condition, you may want to find out whether you can extend your current insurance. Employer-sponsored insurance may be extended under COBRA (or a similar state program).

Are There Ways I Can Lower My Costs for Short Term Health Insurance?

Yes. You can make some choices that can help you find the best Short Term health insurance costs for your situation:

Choose a higher deductible. The deductible is what you have to pay of the expenses covered by your insurance plan before the insurance will pay anything. If you choose a higher deductible, meaning you pay more before the insurance starts paying, you can reduce your premium.

Pay your entire premium up front. In select states with some Short Term plans, if you can pay the total premium for the amount of time you want to be covered, you can save 18% by paying that in one lump sum.

Choose a plan with fewer benefits. Not all Short Term health insurance plans are the same. You will find different levels of coverage available with different benefits for different prices. For example, you can control if your plan includes copays, a fixed dollar amount you pay, for a doctor’s office visit or if you want to include prescription drug coverage.

Stay in network. Picking a health care provider or a specialist that is in the extensive UnitedHealthcare network may save you money because the providers agree to provide quality care at reduced rates.

Can I Get Federal Tax Subsidies to Help Pay for Short Term Insurance?

No. Because temporary insurance plans are not minimum essential coverage as defined by the ACA, you are not eligible for tax subsidies to help pay for them. However, generally, Short Term health insurance plans cost less than ACA health plans.

How Long Can I Have Coverage?

A federal rule regulates Short Term Limited Duration Insurance to terms of less than 12 months (364 days). However, term lengths vary by state. Check your state's plan brochure for details.

What If I Don’t Need Coverage For As Long As I Thought?

No problem. You can drop your coverage at any time without penalty.

Can I Renew My Temporary Health Insurance Plan?

The federal rule regulating Short-Term plans allows for a 36-month maximum duration of renewable coverage. Some states will allow only Short-Term health insurance plans issued for a specific period of time that cannot be extended.

In other states, you can apply for back-to-back plans that together give you coverage for more than a year.

Finally, in some states, when your term is ending, you can apply for a new Short Term plan.3 Remember, though, this is not an extension of your first plan. Any illness or condition you develop while covered under your first plan would be considered a preexisting condition for the new plan.

Can I Keep My Doctor?

Yes, most likely you can. UnitedHealthcare offers one of the largest networks in the U.S. With access to nearly 1.4 million physicians and other health care professionals, and approximately 6,500 hospitals and other medical facilities,2 chances are your current doctor is already a part of our nationwide network.

Health care professionals in our network agree to provide you quality care at lower fees.

Do Short-Term Insurance Plans Have High Deductibles?

Not necessarily. Your deductible is what you have to pay of the expenses covered by your insurance plan before the insurance will pay anything. Short Term Medical insurance plans underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance Company allow you to choose the deductible you're most comfortable with from several options.

Is Telehealth (Virtual Visits) Covered?

With some Short Term plans, if your regular in-network doctor's visit is covered on the plan and your doctor offers telehealth services, you can take advantage of that service at network negotiated lower rates. Your plan's deductible and coinsurance rates apply in that case. 

Certain plans offer a Virtual Care rider for an additional cost that will provide unlimited virtual visits with board-certified doctors 24/7 at no additional consultation fee. This can be a to good option if you need quick care.

Are Prescriptions Covered?

Sometimes. Prescription coverage is available with some temporary insurance plans. Check specific plans for details.

Is Preventive Care Covered?

Sometimes. Limited preventive care coverage is available with some temporary insurance plans. Check specific plans for details.

If I Apply for a Temporary Insurance Plan, Am I Obligated to It?

No. You are under no obligation when using our site. After submitting your application, you may cancel it at any time during the underwriting process.

Note, however, that an application fee may apply in some cases.

Do I Have to Choose a Specific Primary Care Provider (PCP)?

No. Some health plans make you select a primary care provider or primary care physician (PCP) to be the main health care professional who takes care of you. With Short Term Medical insurance plans,4 you can go to any qualified health care provider you choose at any time. Note: Some plans may require you to choose a provider that is in the health plan's network to get your benefits. 

Do I Need a Referral to See a Specialist?

No. A referral is a type of preapproval some health plans require where your primary care provider (PCP) must refer you to another doctor or for a specific service for that visit or service to be covered by the plan. With Short Term Medical insurance plans,4 you can go directly to any specialist of your choice without needing a referral. Note: Some plans may require you to stay with a specialist who is in the health plan's network to get your benefits.