Individual and Family

Short Term Health Insurance Might be For Everyone

Updated on December 09, 2019


For some people, an individual health insurance plan is unaffordable, especially for those who don’t qualify for subsidies. As stated in eHealth’s 2018 report, short term health insurance continues to be a good solution for those between jobs or for those with temporary coverage needs. But we have also found that many people are getting short term health insurance because they’re unable to afford any other kind of coverage.

Costs and benefits covered under short term plans: An analysis of our findings
For many, short term coverage is the only way to get some type of health insurance. Some of the key findings from our study on short term coverage trends in 2017 include:

  • 27% of people reported that they bought short term coverage because it was more affordable than other options
  • Between short term plans and major medical health insurance, 57% of plans bought were short term
  • The amount of people between the ages of 45-64 buying short term plans increased 4% since 2015
  • About half of the people who bought a short term plans believed they were not going to qualify for subsidies
  • 51% of respondents reported that they wouldn’t have coverage if It weren’t for short term health insurance

An increase in older customers choosing short term plans

An interesting data point is that more people who are in an older age-range are choosing to get short term coverage. This proves that the affordable short term plans are not just for young people, but are also an attractive option for older customers. Some of the reasons this might be true:

  • Prices on individual major medical health insurance plans cost too much
  • Short term health insurance is quick, easy to get, and cheaper than many other options
  • If the people in this age group are also part of the 49% of respondents who believed they weren’t going to get subsidies, individual plans would be extremely expensive (especially if their income put them right on the edge of qualifying for subsidies)

Will short term health insurance provide enough benefits?

So we now that short term coverage is affordable, easy to apply for, and can begin almost immediately…but some people might be worrying that the limited benefits will not be enough to cover their health care needs.

This is most likely why young people tend to be the majority demographic that chooses short term plans—but it doesn’t mean that individuals of an older age aren’t still good candidates for short term health insurance.

Here’s what most short term plans usually cover:

  • Services related to unexpected injury or illness
  • Outpatient doctor visits
  • Emergency room stays
  • Hospital visits
  • Surgeries
  • X-rays and laboratory services related to a medical emergency

Some short term plans may include coverage for prescription drugs and additional benefits, but this usually comes at an extra cost.

Keep in mind that plans can vary in what they offer, so make sure to check plan specifics before enrolling in a short term plan.

Should everyone purchase short term health insurance?

This answer is of course, no. Everyone’s health care needs are different, and short term coverage is not going to work for everyone. But, it is a great option for many people, regardless of age. If you don’t plan on seeing the doctor often, or needing many prescriptions throughout the year, and only want a backup plan in the case of an emergency, short term may be exactly what you’re looking for.

In particular, people with pre-existing or chronic medical conditions may find short-term health insurance to not provide enough coverage or to be unavailable.  Short-term health insurance plans do not follow the requirements of qualified health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so they are not required to provide the ACA’s minimum essential benefits, they may not cover medical conditions that exist at the time of application or renewal, they can reject applications or renewals based on medical condition or history, they are not eligible for government subsidies, and they generally have other limitations compared to the ACA’s qualified health plans.  Always make sure you read each plan’s official documentation to understand the benefits and limitations of any plan before you buy it.

Check out plans, compare costs, and read up on plan details to see if short term coverage is a good option for you.

We’ll let you know when we publish anything new.