Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Apr 7, 2022

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The Truth in a Nutshell

  • Temporary health insurance covers periods when you don’t have a permanent plan because you missed open enrollment, you’re waiting for a new policy to start, just went through a divorce, or anything else
  • Typically, short-term insurance lasts from a few months up to a year
  • While it’s usually cheaper than a permanent plan, you’ll probably end up paying more since coverage is limited

Health insurance is one of the most crucial things you need to protect your health and your family’s health. With healthcare costs rising every year, it’s more important than ever to have coverage.

Many Americans get their insurance through employment – in fact, affordable health insurance is one of the main factors people consider when looking for a job. It also keeps people in a position that they would otherwise have quit.

However, there are situations where a permanent health plan is unavailable and short-term health insurance can keep you covered while you wait for a permanent option to become available.

Temporary health insurance is a great option when you need coverage, but it’s usually more expensive and more limited than permanent insurance. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see how much insurance might cost you.

What is short-term insurance?

Short-term insurance is coverage that fills in the gaps of your permanent plans. There are many reasons you might need short-term insurance, but the following are the most common:

  • Waiting for a new job to start
  • Lost coverage after a divorce
  • Missed open enrollment
  • COBRA coverage is about to end
  • ACA coverage will begin in the near future
  • About to become eligible for Medicare
  • Aging off a parent’s insurance plan

No matter what reason you need short-term insurance, it’s not difficult to find a plan that can cover your needs. However, you’ll need to shop around carefully. Many plans have restrictions on the medical care you can receive.

Most short-term plans last anywhere from a few months to a year. If you need coverage for longer than that, there are a few short-term plans to choose from. However, it might be best to consider a permanent personal health insurance plan at that point.

Pros and Cons of Short-Term Insurance

As with most things in life, short-term insurance has positive and negative aspects. Consider the table below to determine if short-term insurance is the best choice for you.

Often cheaper than permanent plansOften no coverage for pre-existing conditions
Plans go into effect immediatelyWaiting periods can last large portions of the plan
Pay only for services you needCoverage is very limited
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At the end of the day, only you can determine if short-term insurance is right for you.

How much does temporary health insurance cost?

The cost of temporary health insurance depends on several factors. While short-term health insurance isn’t as concerned with getting every detail about your medical history as life insurance is, you’ll still be asked several questions.

One of the biggest determining factors for the price is your location. The price will also depend on the type of plan you want. Bare-bones plans with high deductibles will be cheaper than plans with extended coverage and lower copays.

Typically, the cheapest short-term plans start at around $40 a month, which is initially appealing. Consumer Reports points out that more than 20 million Americans have to buy their own insurance, while nine million are ineligible for financial assistance.

Short-term might seem like a better deal for these Americans than a permanent life insurance plan. However, short-term insurance comes with a catch. Knowing exactly what you’re covered for can be a challenge. Many customers find themselves stuck with a bill for tens of thousands of dollars for a service they thought was covered.

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The Best Temporary Health Insurance Companies

Knowing that short-term insurance is the best choice for you is one thing, but finding an excellent company to buy from is another. It might seem challenging even to start looking for short-term coverage, but you can start with the following companies.

UnitedHealthcare Short-Term Health Insurance

UnitedHealthcare repurposed Golden Rule Insurance in 2003 to write short-term policies. While the company offers a traditional short-term option, it also has an extended three-year plan called TriTerm. UnitedHealthcare is the only company that sells a three-year plan.

UnitedHealthcare’s short-term insurance offers emergency visits, wellness exams, and preventative checkups. After 12 months, some pre-existing conditions are eligible for coverage. You’ll have to wait at least six months

However, only people ages 19 to 65 are eligible for coverage, and UnitedHealthcare only sells in 25 states plus Washington D.C.

Everest Short-Term Health Insurance

Everest has offered a variety of private insurance plans since 1973. They offer a lot more than health insurance plans, including property and accident coverage. However, Everest’s short-term insurance plans are what it gets the most praise for.

With low deductibles, affordable prices, and a wide variety of physician coverage, many customers report being satisfied with their Everest plans. Unlike many short-term care plans, Everest covers wellness checkups and mental health care.

Everest sells one short-term plan in 23 states. You can choose a low copay and coinsurance for your plan, and it doesn’t have a network of doctors you have to choose from. Instead, you get to pick your own doctor.

This short-term plan covers the following:

  • Emergency care
  • Mental health services
  • Physical therapy
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Home healthcare

However, you don’t get prescription coverage, and it won’t cover pre-existing conditions.

After approval, your coverage will start the next day. You’ll need to wait five days before you can use any wellness benefits and 30 days before accessing cancer treatment. Other services that require significant medical work, such as surgery, have a six-month waiting period.

IHC Health Group Short-Term Health Insurance

Rather than an individual company, the IHC Health Group includes several insurance providers. IHC offers short-term healthcare plans in 35 states. Its policies are some of the most customizable on the market, especially for people with pre-existing conditions.

With IHC plans, you can choose either a low deductible and higher monthly rates or a higher deductible for a more affordable bill. Since IHC offers a variety of plans, you have more options to choose a policy that will suit your needs.

For example, some plans include routine checkups, X-rays, and other diagnostic exams. This is crucial coverage for people with health concerns, older customers, or people with young kids. However, if you’re a young adult and in good health, you can probably skip it temporarily to save money.

One important thing to note for athletes is that none of the IHC plans cover sports injuries.

Since the plans are customizable, they can get expensive when you start adding additional coverage. The cost might be worth it to you if you need extra coverage, such as hospital or dental insurance.

Pivot Health Short-Term Health Insurance

Founded in 2016, Pivot Health is one of the most affordable options for temporary health insurance as long as you live in one of the 24 states it serves. While a Pivot plan might start with the most basic healthcare coverage, you can add additional coverage in the form of discounts.

As a modern company, Pivot includes 24/7 access to telemedicine visits, and you don’t have to worry about staying in-network. You can also buy add-ons to your plan including:

  • Substance abuse programs
  • Mental health services
  • Home healthcare
  • Physical therapy

While Pivot offers affordable plans, the cheapest selections have low healthcare maximum and cover little more than emergency visits. Additionally, Pivot does not cover pre-existing conditions.

If you have a bigger budget, you can add discount plans to your policy. For example, Pivot’s prescription medicine discount offers up to 70% of your medications.

Waiting periods in Pivot plans are shorter than some of its competitors. When you sign up for a Pivot plan, you’ll have to wait five days for illness visits, 30 days for cancer treatment, and six months for major surgery.

As a modernized company, Pivot has some of the best online tools for temporary health insurance. In fact, Pivot helps you figure out what your healthcare needs are before you get a single quote from them.

Find the Best Temporary Health Insurance for Your Needs

Whether you need coverage for a few months or a few years, you have options. However, short-term insurance can get expensive, so it’s crucial that you research your options before signing up.

To find the best temporary health insurance for your needs, you should compare quotes and products with as many companies as possible. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what rates might look like for you.