Short-term Insurance

Why Some Older Consumers Choose Short-Term Coverage

Updated on December 07, 2019


In a recent survey of people who bought short-term health insurance, eHealth learned some surprising things about the way in which older consumers approach short-term coverage.

For example, they’re more cost conscious than younger enrollees and more likely to treat short-term plans like a less-costly mid-term alternative to health plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

  • Affordability is key for many older enrollees: 70 percent of respondents ages 55 to 64 cited affordability as their primary reason for choosing short-term coverage, compared to 53 percent of young adults ages 18 to 24.
  • Older enrollees want short-term coverage for the long haul: 64 percent of people ages 55 to 64 said they would like to retain short-term coverage for 7 months or longer; by comparison 56 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 said they intend to keep their short-term coverage for no more than 6 months.

eHealth believes that comprehensive coverage – the kind provided by ACA plans – is your best choice if you can afford it. Unfortunately, many middle-class Americans don’t qualify for ACA subsidies and cannot afford comprehensive ACA plans.

Since the cost of coverage increases significantly as you age, older Americans who don’t get ACA subsidies may be forced to choose between short-term coverage or going uninsured.

A big change of perspective on short-term coverage

While older consumers showed special interest in short-term coverage, eHealth found a change in consumer attitudes across all age bands since the maximum term of short-term policies was extended beyond 90 days:

  • Overall, 61 percent of eHealth’s survey respondents say they chose short-term coverage primarily because it was more affordable than their other coverage options; 28 percent say they chose short-term because they only need temporary coverage.
  • A year ago, when short-term plans carried a maximum policy term of 90 days, 27 percent cited affordability while 61 percent said they only needed temporary coverage.

Most short-term customers are satisfied with their plans

eHealth’s survey also found that the vast majority of short-term buyers are happy with their coverage. More than 9 in 10 enrollees said they were very satisfied (41 percent) or somewhat satisfied (51 percent) with their short-term plan.

Eighty-six percent of those who have received medical care while covered by their short-term plan said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their coverage, despite the fact that short-term plans do not provide the comprehensive coverage available under ACA-compliant plans.
Read eHealth’s full survey report for more survey results and analysis.

Know what you’re getting when it comes to short-term coverage

eHealth strongly believes that consumers interested in purchasing short-term health insurance should understand what they’re buying and how short-term coverage differs from coverage provided through ACA-compliant health insurance plans.

Short-term plans do not typically coverage things like preventive medical care, pre-existing medical conditions, maternity care, or retail prescription drugs, and it’s possible to be turned down for coverage based on your medical history.

Educational materials are found on the eHealth website and a brief guide to short-term coverage may be found here.

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