Medical debt is the primary destroyer of financial lives in the USA. The primary buffer people have between medical debt and financial destruction is health insurance.
With that in mind, if you don’t have a health insurance policy in place that can safeguard your bank account, you need to get your hands on one now.
Here’s the thing though—health insurance is anything but simple to access domestically. This is particularly true when you’re going through life transitions. That truth has made it so that many people buy short-term health insurance to keep some sort of coverage intact while they explore longer-term solutions.
Should you buy short-term health insurance? While short-term health insurance isn’t for everyone, it may be helpful in your particular situation.
Keep reading to learn which situations short-term coverage can be great for.
1. You Missed Open Enrollment
As you may know, you have a very limited window of time each fall to opt into health insurance coverage. If you miss that window, technically, you are not eligible for coverage until the next enrollment period.
If your thought upon missing your enrollment window is that you’ll just go through the year without coverage, think again. As we alluded to in this post’s introduction, all it takes is one accident for your bank account to become decimated by steep medical fees.
When you buy short-term health insurance, you safeguard yourself against catastrophe which should then help you safely tide yourself over until enrollment in a permanent plan becomes a possibility.
2. Waiting for Your ACA Coverage to Kick In
When you enroll in an ACA plan, say, in late October, your plan won’t kick in until January 1st. What are you going to do for coverage over the course of those two months or so?
The simple, safe answer would be to opt into short-term health insurance. Hopping on a private insurance plan that’s meant to tide you over can cost as little as $40 or so per month, depending on your unique conditions, and will give you peace of mind until your regular coverage comes to pass.
3. You’re Nearing Medicare Age
If being able to hop on Medicare is just a few months away, why would you opt into a full-time, private, expensive insurance plan in January? It could be that getting out of that plan to switch to Medicare when your eligibility comes could be difficult.
Hopping on and off short-term insurance, on the other hand, is simple. Therefore, we see many people forgo re-upping their regular insurance in January, hopping on a short-term plan, and then leaping to Medicare the moment they meet requirements.
4. You’re Transitioning Jobs
When you go from one job to the next, your health insurance isn’t always going to bridge over as fully as you’d like. For example, let’s say your last day in the office was March 1st and you start your new job 3 weeks later. You’ll likely have no coverage during those 3 weeks.
Rather than rolling the dice, enrolling in a short-term plan will keep you safe until you cross your employment bridge.
5. You Want Time to Think When You Turn 26
The moment you turn 26 in the United States, you’ll be removed from your guardian’s health insurance plan. About a month later, you’ll have to start shopping for new coverage.
While you can head over to the ACA website and get on a plan given your special circumstances, the pressure of opting into full-time coverage might be more than you can manage in the short time frame being offered.
With that in mind, short-term coverage can buy you the additional runway to think about and weigh options.
6. COBRA Isn’t a Viable Option
When employees leave their full-time jobs, the federal government offers them access to an alternative insurance program called “COBRA”. COBRA, while well-meaning, tends to be prohibitively expensive, and therefore, isn’t an option most people to opt into, particularly since they’ve just left their employment/income.
Rather than leaning into an expensive COBRA plan while you weigh your next career move, lean into a short-term plan to enjoy savings.
7. If Organizational Discounts Make Things Sweeter
You may be part of organizations/associations that’ll make your short-term health coverage prices even more irresistible. For example, many alumni organizations offer discounts on short-term coverage. The same is true for professional organizations (writers, mechanics, etc.)
Check in with any organizations you’re a member of to see if you can enjoy discounted coverage.
8. You Qualify
Our last and perhaps most important point when it comes to reasons you may want to buy into short-term coverage comes down to qualifying. Not everyone that needs health coverage will qualify for short-term support.
For example, short-term coverage tends to only support people that are younger than Medicare age, are healthy, and are not pregnant.
If you don’t meet those qualifiers, you’ll have to weigh other options.
Does It Make Sense for You to Buy Short-Term Health Insurance?
As you’ve likely realized by this point, there are several reasons why you may want to buy short-term health insurance. Before you do, know that short-term health insurance is short-term for a reason.
Most policies only offer catastrophic coverage, meaning, they’ll only help you deal with severe accidents/illnesses. For your everyday healthcare needs, full coverage is always best and should be something you continue to seek while enjoying short-term coverage.
For more advice on short-term health insurance plans and other lifestyle topics, explore additional content on our blog.