Finding affordable health insurance is a lot easier than you might realize. Short-term medical plans used to be limited to three-month terms, but changes to federal regulations allow you to keep short-term health insurance for up to one year with the option to renew coverage up to two more years, depending on your state.*
Many Americans who do not want all the coverage an Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plan offers are seeking affordable health insurance alternatives. If you’re one of them, you should know that short-term health insurance could be a good option for you. Short-term health plans offer competitive monthly premiums, benefits for preventive care and medical emergencies, and more flexible renewability opportunities.
Keep scrolling to learn more about the latest rules on short-term limited-duration health plans, how long you can stay on short-term health insurance, what a typical plan covers, and more.
How Long Does Short-Term Health Insurance Last?
Although these regulation changes apply at the federal level, states are allowed to enforce their own short-term health insurance laws. Regulations vary from state to state, especially when it comes to how long you can keep short-term health insurance.
Depending on the state in which you purchase your plan, you can generally keep your short-term health coverage for up to one year* and have the option to renew your plan up to two times in 39 states and the District of Columbia. That’s up to three years of affordable short-term health insurance. Longer than you thought?
Vera Health currently offers short-term health insurance plans in 16 states:
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
Renewing Short-Term Health Insurance
If you’ve thought about applying for short-term health insurance in the past but weren’t sure about its limited coverage duration, you may be intrigued by the extended coverage period for short-term plans in many states.
However, it’s important to know that while some states allow you to renew your short-term coverage up to two times, other states have tighter restrictions on how short-term health insurance can be renewed. It all depends on where you live and whether a short-term health insurance policy is a good idea for you in the first place.
How do you know if short-term health insurance is right for you? It might be if you live in an eligible state and you:
- Do not need coverage for any pre-existing conditions;
- Are not pregnant or planning a family;
- And do not need mental health services.
Short-term health insurance isn’t the answer for everyone, but it could be a good choice for you if you:
- Are self-employed or an independent contractor, freelancer, or service industry worker
- Lost your employer-based health care
- Are between jobs or waiting for benefits to kick in at a new job
- Are turning 26 and aging out of your parent’s health insurance plan
- Cannot apply for Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage because you missed Open Enrollment or do not qualify for a Special Enrollment
- Are waiting for your ACA plan to kick in
- Want health insurance coverage until you are eligible for Medicare
- Want to save money on health insurance
At Vera, we understand that not everyone receives health insurance from their workplace. That’s why we offer affordable short-term health insurance plans for those who don’t need or want all of the coverage included in ACA major medical plans. Affordable health insurance can be hard to find, so we want to help protect you from unexpected medical emergencies with flexible, renewable coverage options.
Changes to Short-Term Health Insurance Laws
Health insurance can be expensive. If you don’t receive coverage from your employer, you may not realize that you have options outside of the health insurance marketplace, like short-term health insurance.
Before 2019, those who did not have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) were also subject to an individual mandate tax penalty that penalized those who could afford health insurance but chose not to buy it. Short-term health plans are not considered MEC, so if you had a temporary insurance plan at that time, you might have been penalized. However, the individual mandate penalty was reduced to $0.00 for tax years 2019 and later, and short-term health insurance policyholders are no longer subject to a penalty at a federal level.
However, some states enforce an individual mandate on a state level, which means you may be required to have qualifying health insurance or pay a penalty depending on where you live. California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia all enforce penalties.
4 Benefits of Getting a Short-Term Health Plan
Do you think you’ll make the switch to short-term health insurance? The United States Department of Health and Human Services predicts that 1.4 million people will be enrolled in short-term health insurance plans by 2028!
What is drawing people to short-term health insurance? Short-term health plans are more affordable, available, and flexible than other health insurance options. Just take a look at these benefits.
1. You Have a More Affordable Health Insurance Alternative
Short-term health insurance offers cheaper monthly premiums than many ACA major medical plans. How is this possible? For starters, short-term health insurance is not required to comply with the ACA. It is not guaranteed-issue, so there is a chance you could be denied coverage.
Additionally, short-term health plans limit the types of benefits they cover and the number of benefits they provide. Short-term health insurance does not cover all 10 essential health benefits required by the ACA, such as:
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions
- Mental health services
- Pregnancy care
However, short-term health insurance does include benefits for many medical services, including:
Short-term health insurance can be a quality, affordable option for those who don’t plan to use all of the coverage offered by ACA major medical insurance plans, but still want benefits for things like doctor visits and some financial protection from medical emergencies.
2. Your Coverage Now Lasts Longer
With the option to keep short-term health insurance for up to 12 months* and renew coverage up to two more times, you can pay for the coverage you want for a longer time. Vera is all about helping you get insured on your own terms.
3. You Can Apply at Any Time
Here at Vera, we’re all about flexibility, transparency, and affordability. Unlike the health insurance marketplace, short-term health insurance doesn’t operate on an enrollment period schedule. That means you can apply for coverage on any day at any time.
4. You Could Get Next-Day Coverage
Did you know that short-term health insurance kicks in quickly, with some plans starting as soon as the following day? ** Don’t risk going without health insurance. Instead, apply for a short-term health plan through Vera Health today to get the coverage you want tomorrow.
What Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cover?
Short-term health insurance provides benefits for various medical services, but what is covered, specifically? Well, it depends. The new federal regulations allow short-term health insurance companies to create their own plans, so coverages vary.
A short-term health plan through Vera typically includes access to the Aetna Open Choice® PPO network, which provides members with network pricing and discounts, and benefits for the following medical services to help you stay safe, healthy, and financially protected:
- Doctor visits
- Urgent care
- Ground ambulance trips
- Emergency room care
- Home health care
- Child immunizations
- Physical therapy
- Diagnostic testing
- Emergency surgery
- Telemedicine (through the LIFE Association membership)
- Prescription drugs, in some states
Keep in mind that covered services may be subject to waiting periods, visit limitations, deductible, coinsurance, or copays, and/or benefit maximums depending on the plan you purchase.
How to Get Short-Term Health Insurance
If you’re interested in learning more about short-term health insurance, call 888-499-1187 to speak with a Vera Health pro, or visit verahealth.com and use our plan builder to get a personalized quote.
* Maximum 12-months less one day/364 days in NE.
** Get the benefits you need for injuries and preventive care right away, with eligibility for sickness benefits after just 7 days. The 7 day wait on sickness benefits is waived if the application date is more than 7 days from effective date.
Short Term Medical coverage is not required to comply with federal market requirements for health insurance, principally those contained in the Affordable Care Act. Be sure to check your policy carefully to make sure you are aware of any exclusions or limitations regarding coverage of preexisting conditions or health benefits (such as hospitalization, emergency services, maternity care, preventive care, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services). If this coverage expires or you lose eligibility for this coverage, you might have to wait until an open enrollment period to get other health insurance coverage.