Is Short-Term Health Insurance A Good Long-Term Choice?

Insurance Blog

As people try to deal with higher health insurance premiums -- not everyone qualifies for subsidies, and premiums can be higher as you get older -- short-term policies have become rather popular. They don't offer many of the same protections as regular (ACA) health insurance, but the affordability is a plus for many. But is this a prudent choice for you? It can be, but you have to be sure you know what you're getting into and what you'd be missing.

Affordability vs. Coverage

Short-term plans are usually much more affordable than regular plans, though premiums vary widely by state. This makes them certainly better than not having any coverage, and they usually won't make your budget cry. However, the drop in price is accompanied by a drop in coverage. If all you're seeking is coverage for emergencies, a short-term plan might work, but long-term illnesses could be only partially covered. You may also find yourself paying for a lot more in terms of prescriptions and non-emergency services. If your previous ACA experience has been with plans where payments don't start at all until you hit your deductible, then you might not see much of a difference day to day. But if your prior plans did cover basic appointments and other non-emergency conditions, then you could notice quite a budget bite.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Short-term policies are a throwback to pre-ACA days when you could be denied coverage for anything. You will have to fill out an underwriting application, and if you manage to get a policy, you'll have to reapply when the policy term is up. There's always the risk of being denied coverage when applying, and if you got sick during your first term, that reapplication could be even tougher to pass.

That Penalty

Short-term policies don't eliminate the ACA penalty. You could have the most awesome short-term policy and still have to pay the penalty at tax time.

Lack of Coverage vs. Streamlining to Match What You Want

Short-term policies don't cover as much as regular policies, as mentioned. But that could be good for people who felt they were paying lots of money for services they didn't need. Someone who is post-menopausal, for example, wouldn't need maternity care and might prefer to pay less for a policy that doesn't offer that coverage. That does mean that you're reducing the insurance financial pool that covers everyone, but if your budget is tight, it can be very helpful.

If you can, look for regular insurance just because it does offer wider coverage, with no pre-existing condition penalty. But if you do go with short-term insurance, be sure to buy it from a reputable company. To learn more about your health insurance options, check out websites like


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When I lost my job, I also lost my health insurance. I've never had to buy health insurance on my own before, so when I went to my insurance agent, I had no idea where to start. The coverage options, deductibles, co-pays, and premiums were confusing. I wasn't sure how to make sense of all of the tiers and doctor's networks. I created this site to help others who've never purchased health insurance before. The posts here are full of resources for insurance coverage, and I hope that it will help you to find the policy that's right for you.