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Six Ways To Get More From Short Term Medical Insurance

January 1, 2010

Each year more than 10 million Americans people buy short term medical insurance. Some use this coverage during college, after graduation, while between jobs, starting a new business or while traveling outside of the country. Others use this type of coverage in place of more expensive 'renewable" health insurance. Short term medical insurance can be a fantastic value because it combines generous benefits with a liberal "freedom of choice" major medical type health coverage at a third to half of the price of traditional medical insurance plans. The downside is that the policy expires after 6 to 36 months and you must apply for another policy. Knowing these few tips about this type of coverage will help you get even more for your money.

TIP #1: USE PREFERRED PROVIDERS
This insurance plans covers treatment received from any doctor or hospital, it pays to use a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)network doctor or hospital. Participating providers for most policies (like Celtic STM) are listed at http://www.phcs.com . If your policy does not include a Preferred Provider network, this feature can be added separately at www.ehealthdiscountplan.com for less than $30 per month.  There are three specific advantages to using a PPO provider; 1) your bill will be discounted under the negotiated network agreement (usually ay least a 20% discount from the cash price), 2) there is no requirement to pay the provider at the time service; payment is due after the claim is processed by the PPO, and 3) the medical service provider handles the claim submission paperwork, saving you time and possible frustration.

TIP #2: REAPPLY
Most policies expire after 6 to 12 months (some last up to 36 months), but re-application is allowed as often as you wish. In some cases it may be necessary to enroll with a different insurance company because some plans limit the total length of consecutive coverage. College students, for example, commonly alternate every 12 months between "American Health Shield" and "Simple STM".  The cost and the benefits are the same. If it is difficult to re-enroll online, then have your enrollment adviser manually handle your second enrollment.

TIP #3: PAY IN ADVANCE
Some policies, like "Secure STM" discount up to 20% of the cost if you pay a single six month premium in advance rather than opt for monthly billing.

TIP #4 PAY OUT-OF-POCKET FOR SMALLER EXPENSES
Individual medical insurance including short term medical insurance, does not cover expenses related to pre-existing medical conditions, so if you take an ongoing prescription medicine or receive ongoing weekly outpatient treatments, these will not be covered by insurance. But often the amount saved on the insurance premium is more than the cash cost of your current medical expense, so it makes sense to pay this out-of-pocket. This may also allow you to feel more comfortable electing a high deductible policy to save even more in premium cost.

TIP #5: BUY WHEN YOU TRAVEL
If you happen to live in one of the few states that does not offer short term medical insurance, it is legal to purchase insurance while you are traveling in another state. It only takes about four minutes to enroll online and the coverage is valid in your home state for all treatments you may receive after returning home. You can even have you policy and ID cards delivered to your address in a restricted state as long as you list another state as the place of purchase. For example, a New York resident spends the winter holidays in Florida.  While in Florida she goes online to purchase a Secure STM 12x3 three year short term medical policy.  She uses the Florida address but instructs the insurer to deliver the policy to New York.   Once issue, the coverage is equally valid for treatment in all states and your premium rate will not increase if you change address.

TIP #6 PROVIDE FEEDBACK

Short term medical insurance providers want your opinion about their product and services. MedSave.com provides a cash incentive of $20 to members for a short telephone interview that takes less than five minutes.  Not only will you be providing information that will guide the direction of your coverage in the future, you will also reduce you net cost.



 

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