Ten Ways to Get More from Your Short Term Medical Insurance

January 1, 2010

Short term medical insurance is a popular and inexpensive way to protect from high unexpected medical bills for up to 36 months at a time. It is priced at about half of the price of full coverage plans that extend for longer periods. This isnurance is not meant to help manage the cost of ongoing medical problems. Coverage is available to most people in every state except NJ, NY, MA, and VT where residents must use an alternate type of coverage. The following tips will help you get more for your money.

1. Compare Prices Online

Most states have two or more low cost short term medical insurance plans. The basic protection offered is comparable, so most buyers select coverage based primarily on price. It is impossible to predict which product is the best deal in every situation. Fortunately, rates of all plans are available side-by-side on the Web at www.MedSave.com, so it makes sense to spend a few extra minutes to compare prices. MedSave.com makes it even easier by listing only the plans available in your state. 

2. Pay in Advance

Some policies offer a significant discount if you pay for multiple months in advance using the "single pay" option. The discount can be up to 15% of the total premium. When pricing coverage online, compare the "monthly" payment option with the "single payment" method. If the total cost is substantially different, it might even pay to put the entire purchase on a credit card and pay it off over several months.

3. Use Preferred Providers for Pricing Discounts

Short term medical insurance covers treatment with any doctor or hospital of your choice, but it pays to use a Preferred Provider (PPO) network to reduce out-of-pocket costs.  Significant savings are also available for pre-existing conditions that are not covered by insurance. Most STM policies include a discount prescription drug plan and access to a Preferred Provider network. If your short term medical plan does not include this feature, get a separate PPO discount plan for medical dental and prescription drug costs.  MedSave.com offers a free downloadable discount drug card that will help save 15-20% over the cash price of a drug at almost any pharmacy. Ehealthdiscountplan.com offers low cost discount plans that can be used to help reduce fees for doctor's office visits, dental care, prescriptions, eye care and other health care charges.

4. Find the Length of Coverage You Need

The least expensive plans expire after 6 months and others allowing a maximum of 12 months of coverage at a substantial discount over plans that have no expiration date. The plans with a six month maximum coverage cost 25% less than plans with a twelve month coverage. In many cases it makes more sense to take two consecutive 6 month plans. In most states you ma re-apply as often as you wish. If continuity of coverage is more important than lowest price, most states offer 36 month coverage through Secure STM.

5. Consider Health Factors

Short term medical insurance is often the easiest and least expensive type of major medical insurance coverage for those who have ongoing health issues. But there is a trade-off: this low cost and liberal eligibility standard is available because short term medical plans exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. A person taking a medication for a medical condition, for example, might be excluded from most low cost health plans but would still be eligible for coverage under some short term medical plans. Note that the medical eligibility requirements listed on the insurance application form vary from plan to plan and from state to state. If you fail to qualify for one plan for some minor health reason, check the wording on another policy's application form. See the article "Short Term Medical Insurance for Special Situations" and "Eligibility for Short Term Health Insurance" for details on specific health considerations.

6. Use the Best Doctors

Short term medical coverage allows you to use any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country so use the best doctors and hospitals you can find.  Your maximum out-of-pocket cost is limited to the same amount regardless of the amount of your medical bills. Several of the most popular STM plans have arrangements with Preferred Health Care Systems. Inc. (PHCS). A searchable provider network is available online.

7. Consider State Rules

Short term medical insurance is meant to be portable. If you happen to live in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, or Vermont then short term medical insurance is not available so alternate coverage or other strategies will be necessary. But if you are moving from state to state, you can get coverage in these restricted states if you enroll before you move. Once issued, short term medical insurance is equally valid throughout the U.S. and Canada regardless of where you may travel or move. Policies can usually be stacked end to end for longer periods of coverage but some states have special rules. See the article "How long Can I Be Covered by Short Term Health Insurance" for details.

8. Get Fast Service

One of the strongest features of short term medical insurance is that applications are approved immediately. Coverage becomes effective at midnight after you enroll unless you specify a later starting date.

9. Get Your ID Card Immediately

Most types of insurance policies are delivered by mail, but most short term medical insurance plans offer the ability to print your policy and ID card immediately from the Web site when you enroll online. This is great if you are travelling away from home or need immediate proof of coverage.

10. Use OnlineAdviser Service

The OnlineAdviser professional enrollment support service at MedSave.com has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals in every state across the nation over a period of more than 20 years. This expertise in short term medical insurance is unmatched. Take advantage of this free service to fit the coverage that best fits your specific situation.

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