Comparing Short-Term Health Insurance with Regular Health Insurance

Unlike traditional health insurance plans, short-term insurance plans provide medical coverage for a limited period of time, usually no longer than 12 months. Temporary health insurance is ideal for people who are only temporarily uninsured, such as those who are in-between jobs, waiting on employer or government-sponsored health benefits, or have missed the Affordable Care open enrollment period.

A short-term insurance plan may be beneficial to you based on your insurance needs and employment situation. The primary differences between short-term and regular insurance policies are outlined below to help you decide if a short-term plan is right for you.

Short-term insurance is not required to observe the ACA requirements.

Short-term plans don't cover all of the ten essential health benefits that ACA health plans are required to cover. Most short-term plans are designed to protect against sudden illnesses and injuries and provide only emergency services coverage.

Short-term insurance is flexible.

The coverage duration of short-term insurance plans ranges from 30 days to 12 months, so your length of coverage is up to you. Short-term policies are also often approved quickly, and can go into effect as soon as the day after applying.

Short-term insurance is less expensive.

Short-term policies can use medical underwriting to reject people with certain health conditions. As a result, this makes the cost of short-term plans much lower than regular insurance plans.

Short-term insurance is not renewable.

Once your short-term insurance coverage period ends, you cannot renew your existing policy. However, you may be able to enroll in a new short-term health insurance policy. You can usually enroll in up to two policies each year.

Short-term insurance does not provide pre-existing condition coverage.

Unlike traditional insurance, which covers pre-existing conditions, short-term insurance plans don't provide pre-existing condition coverage. Short-term policies only protect against unforeseen incidents, covering basic medical needs and emergencies. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, a short-term insurance plan may not provide you with the coverage you need.

Short-Term Health Insurance Vs. Regular Insurance (Tabular Comparison)

Short-Term Health Insurance Regular Health Insurance
Length of Coverage 30 days to 12 months Per Policy Period
Meets ACA Requirements No. Short-term insurance plans are not required to comply with ACA coverage requirements. Yes. Under the ACA, all insurance plans must provide coverage for the 10 Essential Health Benefits and cover at least 60% of medical expenses.
Cost Cost of short-term insurance plans varies depending on deductible and coinsurance, but is much less than regular plans. Cost of regular insurance varies but is much higher than short-term plans.
Eligibility People with certain health conditions may not be eligible to enroll. Anyone is eligible to enroll for Qualified Health Plans under the ACA.
Renewable May not be renewable. Yes
Preventative Care Usually not. Yes
Pre-Existing Condition Coverage Usually not. Yes
Pregnancy and Maternity Care Usually not. Yes
Mental Health Care Usually not. Yes

Short-term insurance can be beneficial for some individuals, but may not meet all health insurance needs. Before purchasing a short-term health insurance plan, be sure to read your policy details thoroughly so that you understand all benefits and exclusions of your short-term policy. Even if you're waiting for a brief period until your next insurance plan begins, having some medical protection is better than having none at all during that gap.