Individual and Family

How Long Can I Have a Short Term Health Insurance Plan?

Updated on December 07, 2019


For many individuals and families who don’t qualify for subsidies, the health insurance market has become extremely unaffordable. If you miss the cutoff to qualify for subsidies, and are feeling the worst effects of unstable prices on health insurance plans, then you’re probably wondering if there’s any solution to getting affordable health insurance.

How long can I have short term health insurance?

In 2017, short term health insurance plans were limited to a 90-day period of coverage, in hopes that healthy people who don’t need comprehensive Obamacare plans wouldn’t flood the market in favor of these skimpier, yet cheaper plans. This limitation would hopefully keep people from using short term health insurance as primary coverage, instead of a temporary solution to being uncovered.

Just one year later, a new rule was finalized which extended the limit of short term health insurance plans to 12 months with the option to renew coverage up to 3 years. So in 2019, enrollees will have the option to be on a short term plan for a significantly longer amount of time.

Why would you want a short term health insurance plan for a long time?

The key appeal to short term plans is their affordability. According to eHealth data, short term plans are 1/5 the cost of Obamacare plans without a subsidy. And even for families who do qualify for subsidies, short term health insurance would still be 1/3 of the cost. The longer enrollees are allowed to stay on this type of coverage, the more they can save.

If you’re buying your own insurance, without the help of an employer, you’ve probably already felt the effects of instability in the individual market, and rapidly increasing prices. For those that don’t qualify for subsidies, or are considering just not buying insurance at all, short term plans are a great solution.

Although this coverage won’t offer you the ten essential benefits, and mostly covers emergency services, it can still be extremely useful in the event of an unexpected injury or illness. Nobody (even the healthiest of us) is safe from medical bills caused by emergencies—and when that does happen, you want to make sure that you have some kind for coverage protecting you from bearing the brunt of that cost all on your own.

Who should be on a short term health insurance plan for the full amount of allowed time?

Your choice in coverage can’t be decided by anyone but you—you know what is best for your health, so there’s no answer to who should do what.

With that said, in general short term plans will likely work best for people who generally consider health insurance as a back-up plan in case some unexpected medical emergency. If you or a family member visits health care providers or facilities often, or requires expensive prescriptions, short term might not be the most affordable choice for you, since a lot of those costs might not be covered until you meet a high deductible, or might not be covered at all. If you’re looking for more comprehensive coverage that might cost more monthly, but provide additional benefits, then check out major medical Obamacare plans.

This article is not intended as medical advice, and should be only be used as a general guideline for how short term health insurance works. Coverage on plans may vary based on the plan and the health insurance company, so make sure to check the details before purchasing a short term health insurance plan.

Where to find short term health insurance

You have all the tools you need to shop for short term health insurance at eHealth. Search affordable health insurance plans in your area and compare quotes on short term plans from several different companies.

This article is for general information only and may not be updated after publication.

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