Short-term health plans last 12 months or less. Premiums are often lower than major medical policies, but they usually have fewer benefits. It’s important to understand exactly what’s covered – and what’s not – before you buy.
1 Potential consumers
People who need coverage for a short period of time, such as recent college graduates or people between jobs, may look at short-term plans. These plans don’t have to comply with federal Affordable Care Act requirements.
These plans are also called short-term, limited-duration insurance plans, or STLDPs.
2 Know what the plan covers
It’s important to ask what’s covered and what’s not. For example, short-term plans:
Might not cover emergency care, maternity care, prescriptions, or certain other services. Might not cover care for some types of accidents or health issues. Don’t have to cover preexisting conditions. If a company sells you a plan, it may deny a claim if it determines you had a related condition in the past.
3 Other costs
Short-term health plans often have lower premiums, but other costs may be higher. Some things to ask before you buy:
How much do I have to pay before the insurance will pay? (This is called your deductible.)What are the copays and cost-sharing? This is the amount you’ll have to pay for each doctor’s visit or service after you meet the deductible. Is there a limit on how much this policy will pay out? Does this policy have a waiting period before coverage begins?
4 When a short-term plan expires
When a short-term plan expires, you are no longer covered and will have to buy a new plan. If you get sick, you might not be able to get another short-term plan. You won’t be able to get an Affordable Care Act plan until the open enrollment period from November 1 through December 15 for coverage that starts January 1.