What Is Short Term Health Insurance

What Is Short Term Health Insurance?

Short term health insurance was created to provide a safety net if you unexpectedly lost traditional comprehensive health insurance or experienced a gap in coverage. It can be particularly beneficial during transitional periods, such as job changes or waiting periods for employer-provided coverage, ensuring individuals have some level of protection against unexpected medical costs.

While short term health insurance may not offer the same comprehensive coverage as long term plans, they can be a lifeline in times of urgency, providing essential benefits and financial protection until a more permanent insurance solution is secured.

What is considered short term health insurance?

Short term health insurance is considered to be temporary coverage that offers limited medical benefits. These plans provide basic medical services such as emergency care, doctor visits, and limited prescription drug coverage, intended to provide immediate but temporary protection against unforeseen medical expenses. 

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How does short term health insurance work?

Short term health insurance works similarly to traditional insurance. You must apply, select a plan, and pay your monthly premiums to receive coverage. But that’s where the similarities end. Short term health insurance offers limited benefits as a temporary solution and is not a replacement for comprehensive coverage.

You can learn more about the differences between limited benefit plans and comprehensive health insurance coverage.

What does short term health insurance cover?

While the specific coverage ultimately depends on your chosen policy, short term health insurance plans typically cover essential medical services and a range of basic benefits such as emergency care, hospitalization, doctor visits, some laboratory tests, and limited prescription drug coverage.

However, it’s important to note that short term plans often come with limitations and exclusions. They will not cover pre-existing conditions, preventive care, maternity care, mental health services, or substance abuse treatment. Additionally, coverage for specific procedures or treatments may be limited or subject to caps, making it essential for individuals to thoroughly review the policy details to understand the extent of coverage provided by their specific short term health insurance plan.

How long is short term health insurance?

Short term health insurance is intended to provide coverage for a limited duration, typically ranging from a few months to a year. While there are plans that can provide continuous coverage for up to 36 months, in general, short term health plans were designed to provide immediate coverage for a short period until individuals could secure more permanent, comprehensive health insurance.

Some states have also set stricter limits for how long a person can be enrolled in a short term health insurance plan to prevent people from relying on this temporary solution and foregoing comprehensive coverage.

Can short term health insurance be renewed?

Yes, short term health insurance can sometimes be renewed, but it’s important to note that the rules and options regarding renewals can vary depending on the insurance provider and state regulations. Some short term plans may offer the possibility of renewing the policy for up to three years, while others may not.

Renewals might also have limitations, such as additional underwriting or restrictions on coverage for pre-existing conditions. It’s crucial for individuals considering renewal to carefully review their policy terms, limitations, and any changes in coverage or premiums that may occur during the renewal process.

How much is short term health insurance?

The cost of short term health insurance can vary significantly and depends on several factors, including the individual’s age, location, coverage duration, chosen deductibles, and the specific benefits included in the plan. On average, premiums for short term health insurance plans tend to be lower than longer-term comprehensive health insurance. However, they offer more limited coverage and may have higher out-of-pocket costs for medical services.

Who qualifies for short term health insurance?

Anyone needing temporary coverage can apply for short term health insurance, but not everyone will qualify. While short term health insurance plans typically have fewer eligibility requirements than traditional long term plans, insurance companies still look at certain factors when determining coverage.

Age, medical history, and other risk factors can influence an insurer’s decision to approve or deny coverage for short term plans. If an applicant has pre-existing medical conditions, insurers might deny coverage related to those conditions or refuse to provide a policy altogether.

Additionally, certain states have regulations that impact the eligibility criteria for short term health insurance, potentially affecting an individual’s ability to obtain coverage.

Short term vs long term health insurance

Short term health insurance differs significantly from traditional long term comprehensive coverage, especially when it comes to the duration of coverage, benefits, and cost.

Duration of coverage

Duration of coverage is perhaps the most obvious difference between short and long term health insurance coverage. Short term health insurance plans were designed to offer temporary coverage, typically ranging from a few months to a year, compared to long term comprehensive plans, which were designed to provide long term, year-round coverage.


There is a substantial difference in benefits between short term health insurance and traditional long term health insurance. Short term health insurance offers limited benefits, focusing on immediate but basic medical services such as emergency care, doctor visits, and some prescription drug coverage.

On the other hand, long term health insurance, typically provided through comprehensive plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), offers extensive benefits encompassing preventive care, maternity services, mental health support, substance abuse treatment, and coverage for pre-existing conditions. These plans ensure continuous, year-round coverage for a wide range of medical services, providing comprehensive protection against various healthcare needs.

The differences lie not only in the breadth of coverage but also in the depth and scope of benefits, with traditional long term health insurance offering a far more extensive array of healthcare services compared to the more limited coverage provided by short term plans.


Short term plans typically have lower monthly premiums than long term comprehensive plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These lower premiums make short term insurance more accessible and affordable for individuals seeking immediate but temporary coverage, especially during transitional periods like job changes or waiting for employer-sponsored insurance to kick in. However, the trade-off for lower premiums in short term plans often involves higher out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copayments, and limited coverage for medical services.

In contrast, long term comprehensive health insurance tends to have higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs and comprehensive coverage for a wide range of medical services, ensuring more financial protection against various healthcare needs and unexpected medical expenses. The cost differences between the two types of insurance reflect the balance between affordability and the depth of coverage provided.

How to get short term health insurance

Woligo is proud to simplify the process for individuals seeking immediate coverage, including short term health insurance. You can get a no-obligation, free quote emailed to you by answering a few questions.