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As we go through open enrollment for 2019 health insurance plans, most people will want to consider traditional major medical insurance. However, this year there is an option for people who qualify that might provide them with a lower cost alternative to a traditional plan.
The alternative we are referring to is known as Short Term Medical Insurance. Because these policies can now cover you for up to twelve months, just like traditional major medical policies, they’re a more viable option for 2019 than in previous years. If you have missed open enrollment, or may need temporary coverage until your 2019 plan kicks in or even if you are experiencing a life event like moving to a new state, switching jobs, getting married or divorced, short term medical plans could still be a good option for you in today’s marketplace.
What To Know About Short Term Health Insurance
If you are interested in short term health plans, you need to begin by making sure you understand how they work. The main benefits of short-term plans are that they are cheaper and that you can enroll at any time, not just during open enrollment or a special enrollment period.
However, these are also non-ACA compliant plans, meaning they won't always cover all the elements considered "essential" to such plans, like pregnancy and childbirth care, mental health services, and certain types of preventive medical procedures and tests. For 2019, the tax penalty has been eliminated - but it could come back and it still could apply if you have a non-compliant plan for the remainder of 2018 (and don't get an exemption to the fine).
There are no subsidies to assist in paying for short term health insurance, and they won't follow the familiar metal plan system for cost-sharing. Additionally, most temporary health plans do NOT cover pre-existing conditions.
Also, you aren't generally guaranteed the ability to renew a short term policy after the term expires, and at that point, your qualifications (including newly acquired pre-existing conditions) can be reassessed.
How Long Can I Keep A Short Term Plan?
In the past, short term plans were limited to 90 days, and you often weren't able to reapply again - or you could only do so once or twice. But for 2019, short term coverage means up to 12 months and you are usually allowed to renew coverage up to 3 times.
For those who don't qualify for subsidies on an ACA plan, a short term alternative can cost only 20% of what a marketplace plan would. If you are single, healthy, and only want essentially "emergency care" coverage, a short term plan might work out well for you. It won't provide a high level of cover, but it's better than no cover at all.
Also, you can usually drop a short term plan at any time without a penalty. Coverage can begin immediately or end immediately as needed. This kind of flexibility is often quite valuable for those not yet sure what they want to do for health insurance long term.
Talk To An Agent Before Deciding
Whether to buy cheaper, short term insurance, a marketplace plan, or an off-marketplace health insurance plan is a big decision. And what you decide now will impact you for the whole year to come, or longer.
Be sure to talk to an experienced health insurance agent, who is independent of any particular insurer, to explore your options before making a final decision. Feel free to contact our industry-leading agents at Summerlin Benefits Consulting today for assistance in finding your best health insurance offer for 2019!