Acquiring Short-Term Health Insurance Tips

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What are the differences between short-term and standard health insurance?

Short-Term vs. Standard Health Insurance

Acquiring short-term health insurance plan is not always the most convenient way of maintaining health insurance. Short-term health insurance, because of its temporary nature, is not automatically renewable like standard insurance. You will need to re-apply for coverage if you have not replaced your short-term health insurance by the time the policy is set to expire. Another key difference between standard and short term health insurance is that, while most standard insurance policies ultimately provide coverage for pre-existing conditions once a waiting period has been met, most temporary health insurance plans refuse to pay any benefits for pre-existing conditions whatsoever. Though plans vary, most temporary health insurance plans will cover things such as emergency treatment, prescription drugs, laboratory results, and x-rays, and some home and hospital care. However, most temporary health insurance plans generally do not cover expenses for preventative and routine health care, such as annual exams.

   
Will I have a co-pay with my short-term health insurance?

Short-Term Insurance Co-Payments

If you are acquiring short-term health insurance plans, you should know that they almost always function under a fee-for-service model, which means you will have to pay a variable co-insurance rate for health care goods and services received. Each company is different, and even different plans offered by the same company will vary, but generally speaking you can expect to pay coinsurance anywhere from 20%-50%. If your policy has a traditional 80/20 split, the insurance company will pay 80% of the charge for goods or services, and you would have to pay the 20% balance. Most health care providers expect payment of coinsurance at the time of service, although some may bill you after the fact.

   
Will my pre-existing condition be covered under short-term insurance?

Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions

Most short-term insurance plans do not often cover pre-existing conditions. If you have a chronic condition such as asthma, chances are your short-term insurance will not cover goods and services received in treatment of that condition. If you are generally healthy at the time you apply for the policy, you should be fine. It is important to remember this when you are shopping for a plan by paying careful attention to any waiting period and pre-existing condition coverage exclusions.

   
Where can I find information on short-term health insurance plans?

Shopping for Short-Term Health Insurance

You can find information on short-term health insurance using all the same methods you would use to find standard health insurance:

  • You can check with your state's insurance commission to receive a list of approved insurance providers for your state.
  • You can also check with your existing insurance agent to see if he or she represents any companies that provide short-term insurance.
  • You can contact companies you know offer health insurance in your state directly.
  • Researching your insurance needs online at any one of a number of legitimate online insurance quote Web sites is also a good idea.

Use sites like Insurelane.com or Monsterquote.com, portals that will direct you to other companies that provide the specific type of insurance for which you are looking.

   
Should I get short-term health insurance if I'm between jobs?

Coverage Between Jobs

Short-term health insurance, sometimes called temporary health insurance, is perfect for different situations. Acquiring short-term health insurance plans is a great idea for people going through a brief gap in standard health insurance coverage, short-term health insurance is ideal if you are between jobs, a recent graduate, or waiting for a for a new health insurance plan to start. However, before you pay for a short-term insurance policy, make sure you understand your rights under COBRA law. If you have left your job and your employer has at least twenty employees, you are legally entitled to continue your coverage under your employer's group plan for up to eighteen months. You will have to pay the entire premium out of your own pocket, but if you have a significant pre-existing condition that you expect to require care for, you may end up better off financially staying on your employer's plan than risking denial of benefits under a new short-term insurance plan.

   
How much does short-term health insurance cost?

The Costs Of Short-Term Insurance

As with standard insurance, all short term health insurance plans vary from company to company. However, because most insurers protect themselves by limiting or excluding benefits for pre-existing conditions, preventative, and routine health care services, premiums can be much lower than those for standard health insurance. Where a standard health insurance plan's monthly premium for individual coverage may be in the $250 to $400 range depending on coverage and deductible levels, the monthly premium for most temporary health insurance policies is usually below $100. What you pay will depend in large part on the deductible level you choose when acquiring short-term health insurance plans. Just like with standard health insurance, the lower the deductible, the higher the premium and vice-versa.

   
What is short-term health insurance?

Temporary Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance is very similar to regular health insurance except the health insurance plans have a fixed coverage period. Plans such as these are usually in force for anywhere from one month to a maximum of twelve months, though some companies limit coverage to a maximum of six months. Most short-term health insurance plans are fee-for-service plans, though some offer managed care plans such as HMOs and PPOs.

   
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Susan Sayour