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Short Term Health Insurance

Short term health insurance is intended for a period of unemployment or other temporary lapse in health insurance coverage. If you are a temporary employee, between jobs, waiting for group coverage to start, or a recent graduate, short term health insurance could be a sensible choice for your temporary situation. You can normally extend coverage to your entire family if you pay an additional fee to your short term health insurance provider. Many companies offer flexible and affordable short term health insurance plans which generally cover you for 1 to 12 months but they are usually not renewable.

If you are an international traveler, student, overseas visitor, immigrant or global citizen, you may be interested in short term health insurance designed for your specific needs. Many companies offer international and travel insurance plans that usually provide medical coverage up to a year.

Short Term Health Insurance Coverage Details

Emergencies and hospital care are usually covered, but in general, these policies are limited, so you should study your short term health insurance plan information carefully to know for sure. short term health insurance is not a replacement for regular health insurance, and usually does not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, routine checkups and other non-emergency services. If you want to keep your insurance for eye care, dental care, or other elective coverage while you are using a short term health insurance policy, you will need a supplemental health insurance policy. Temporary health insurance provides healthcare coverage at an affordable rate. The lower cost is offset by a reduction in coverage. While the plan is not as comprehensive as a typical individual policy, it will usually provide adequate protection for:

  • Intensive care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Lab exams and x-rays
  • Hospital room and board
  • Inpatient and outpatient procedures
  • No limits on selection of physicians and hospitals

Short Term Health Insurance Under COBRA

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) provides for a temporary continuation of health insurance coverage for employees who leave a company with 20 or more employees. Under COBRA, you have to pay the entire health insurance premium and possibly an administrative fee. COBRA beneficiaries generally are eligible for group coverage during a maximum of 18 months. Although COBRA coverage is expensive, it allows you to continue your familiar plan until you are able to work out a more permanent health insurance solution.

The eligibility requirements for COBRA are:

  • Not eligible for a group health plan, Medicare or Medicaid
  • No other health insurance
  • Apply within 60 days of losing your health insurance coverage
  • Had minimum of 18 months of continuous health insurance coverage

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enacted in 1996 extends this requirement to smaller businesses as well. If you recently lost health insurance coverage through an employer, purchasing a short term medical insurance plan will make you ineligible for any guaranteed issue, individual health insurance plans commonly referred to as HIPAA plans. Short term insurance plans are exempt from HIPAA legislation. This means that when issuing a short term health insurance policy, insurance carriers do not have to: guarantee renewal, guarantee issue, or waive the pre-existing condition limitation for federally eligible individuals. HIPAA plans are often very expensive but may be suitable for those whose pre-existing conditions make it hard to obtain health insurance in the private market. Therefore, if you wish to maintain your eligibility for HIPAA plans, you should not purchase a short term health insurance plan. Your benefits advisor can provide information about your rights under HIPA A and other rights under state law.


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