Short-Term Health Insurance Compared to Regular Health Insurance

Short-Term Health Insurance Compared to Regular Health Insurance

When traveling outside of your home country, you may not be covered by the health insurance that covers you at home. This is where short-term health insurance comes in.

Short-term health insurance is a viable solution for a number of situations where an individual needs a health insurance plan to cover them for a short amount of time while outside of their normal home coverage.

Let’s discover the key differences between short-term and regular health insurance and when you might need a short-term health insurance plan.

What Is Short-term Health Insurance?

Unlike traditional health insurance plans, short-term health insurance plans provide medical coverage for a limited period of time, usually no longer than 12 months.

Individuals and their families should obtain short-term health insurance if they only require medical coverage for a short period of time. For example, individuals and families seeking temporary coverage in the United States before they qualify for domestic health insurance should purchase short-term health insurance plans.

Who Is Short-term Health Insurance For?

These short-term health insurance plans are best for recent U.S. immigrants, college graduates, international students on OPT visas, early retirees waiting for Medicare to start, guest work visa holders (such as H or L visas), and U.S. citizens returning to the United States after living abroad.

Individuals who have been laid off from their jobs, are in between jobs, or are waiting for their permanent health benefits to begin at their new employer might benefit from these short-term medical insurance policies too. Individuals up to the age of 64 can enroll in these plans.

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.

Benefits of Short-term Health Insurance

The following are some key benefits of short-term travel insurance:

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 isn't renewable.

Once your short-term insurance coverage period ends, you can't 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 doesn't 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


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 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.


People with certain health conditions may not be eligible to enroll.

Anyone is eligible to enroll for Qualified Health Plans under the ACA.


May not be renewable.


Preventative Care

Usually not.


Pre-Existing Condition Coverage

Usually not.


Pregnancy and Maternity Care

Usually not.


Mental Health Care

Usually not.


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.

Have further questions? Compare short-term travel insurance options or contact our Customer Success Team for assistance.