When to Consider Short-Term Health Insurance

Is short-term health insurance the right choice for you? In this section we'll examine three big reasons why consumers sometimes choose short-term health plans.

When you need coverage for a short period of time

The Affordable Care Act created an annual open enrollment period when anyone can buy major medical health insurance. If you need temporary health coverage outside of open enrollment but you haven't had a qualifying life event, short-term coverage can be a good option to meet your coverage needs. Short-term coverage can also protect you while you're waiting for employer-based coverage to begin.

Obamacare Open Enrollment
Nov. 1, 2019 to Dec. 15 2019


Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov




Outside of Open Enrollment
Those without a qualifying life event may apply for short-term health insurance.
2020 Open Enrollment Period
The 2020 open enrollment period is subject to change but is scheduled to run Nov. 1, 2019 through Dec. 15, 2019. During this period anyone can apply for major medical health insurance.

When you haven't experienced a qualifying life event

During Obamacare open enrollment periods, anyone can sign up for traditional major medical insurance. However, outside open enrollment periods, you must experience a "qualifying life event," such as marriage, the birth of a child, loss of employer-based coverage, etc. before you can enroll in major medical coverage. If you need health insurance now, but haven't experienced a qualifying life event, short-term health insurance is a good option.

Here are a few examples of qualifying life events:


Birth of a child

Loss of employer-based coverage

When traditional major medical coverage is too expensive

The cost of major medical health insurance can be prohibitive, even for some people qualifying for subsidies. If the price of traditional major medical coverage is unaffordable for you, short-term health insurance may provide a temporary alternative that still offers you some coverage at a lower cost.



Average premium:
(In 2018)


Major Medical

Average premium:
(In 2018)

Find short-term insurance plans if you don't have major medical coverage.

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