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What are Short-Term Health Insurance Plans and How Do They Work?

physician doing consultation discussing short term health insurance plans

Are you struggling to afford a traditional health insurance plan, waiting for your conventional health insurance to kick in, or planning to relocate and need temporary coverage? If so, you may be an ideal candidate for short-term health insurance plans. 

More and more short-term health insurance plan options are popping up all over the place, some of them good, and some of them not so good, but if one of them has caught your eye and you’re wondering whether it could be for you, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide will provide you with a quick breakdown to give you a comprehensive understanding of short-term health insurance, how it operates, and how it can cater to your healthcare coverage needs.

Let’s get into it.

Short-Term Health Insurance: An Overview

As the name suggests, short-term health insurance provides coverage for a limited duration, such as a few months, with a cap on the number of times the plan can be renewed. 

Unlike a traditional health insurance plan that you may pay for yearly on a rolling contract, you can enroll in a short-term health insurance plan on a monthly basis or through a one-time payment. This ensures you receive monetary assistance from your insurance company for covered healthcare services.

That said, what you get from your plan can vary wildly, depending on the provider and the state you reside in. 

While these plans do not cover the minimum benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they offer certain advantages that make them appealing to some.

How Do Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Work?


Unlike ACA plans, short-term health insurance plans do not have a specified enrollment period. 

You can enroll at any point in the year when you need temporary coverage. Say, for example, if you’re going on a trip or you’re working on a particular project at work. 

The coverage begins swiftly, with most applicants getting approved within 1-14 days. Some important points to consider include:

  • Coverage can be extended to dependents, such as your spouse or family.
  • The plan is medically underwritten, so all dependents must meet the medical requirements to get covered.
  • Short-term health insurance can be renewed twice, but any treatment received under the preceding plan will be considered a pre-existing condition.
  • It’s possible to combine short-term plans with other supplemental insurance plans like dental, vision, accident, and critical illness.

State Regulations on Short-Term Plans

Most states have specific laws regarding short-term insurance coverage due to its limited benefits. Some states restrict the enrollment duration, ensuring these plans are used as temporary solutions, not long-term health insurance. 

Others have banned short-term plans entirely.

For example, no plans are sold in California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Coverage Provided by Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term plans typically offer low-cost, low-coverage benefits, primarily for emergencies. Unlike ACA plans, which offer ten essential benefits, short-term plans do not have a standardized benefits list. 

They can, however, cover prescription drugs. It’s important to note that you could be denied coverage based on your health or have to pay more due to pre-existing conditions.

Pros and Cons of Short-Term Health Insurance Plans

Short-term health insurance offers several advantages, but it also has limitations. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision.


  • Affordability: Short-term plans are competitively priced and cheaper than major medical plans.
  • Speed: Coverage usually begins within 1-14 days.
  • Flexibility: The coverage is acceptable for non-government situations like medical school requirements or travel.
  • Easy cancellation: Short-term plans can be canceled at short notice, especially if you pay monthly.


  • Limited renewals: Short-term plans do not renew automatically, and there are limits on renewals.
  • Limited coverage: They typically do not cover all ten categories of essential benefits.
  • Limited availability: Not all states or insurance providers in the U.S. offer short-term medical insurance.


As you can see, short-term health insurance offers affordable, quick coverage for temporary needs, despite its limitations. It’s crucial to evaluate your healthcare needs and finances before opting for a plan. 

There are certainly pros and cons to these plans, so take your time to think about what it is you need from your plan before making a decision. 

And if you’re looking for help or support making this decision, or you have any questions, contact our friendly, expert agents here at My Healthcare Direct.

We’re always on hand to make life easy when organizing your healthcare plans both now and in the future.

Contact us today to book a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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