Short Term Medical Insurance

January 1, 2010


Short term medical insurance is a popular and inexpensive way to get high quality individual or family health coverage lasting from one month to three years.  Despite the "short term" name, many individuals are finding that this type of plan is the best choice for several years.  It covers ordinary and necessary medical expenses up to $1million or more with any doctor or hospital of your choice.  This coverage is priced at about 1/2 the cost of traditional health insurance because: 1) it does not cover pre-existing medical conditions, and 2) it has a stated expiration date after which you must reapply for new coverage. 

Here are a few ways you can get find the best plan for you situation and get the most from a short term medical insurance policy:

  1. Compare Plans and Prices Online - Most states have two or more low cost short term medical plans available, so it makes sense to compare prices.  The basic coverage is considered to be pretty much the same to most shoppers, so price may be the most important distinction between the plans.  For applicants under age 35, American Health Shield is intentionally designed to be the lowest cost short term medical plan in the market.  Secure STM tends to be less expensive for those over age 40. "Secure 12x3 STM" is the extended term version of this coverage (up to 36 months) and "Secure Lite STM" is a trimmed down les expensive version of the same coverage. The price varies based on age, sex, location and coverage options selected, so it pays to compare a few side-by-side. Other reliable options are Simple STM, Celtic Insurance, Golden Rule, and Amigo Medical. Use the state-by-state listing pages to find out what plans are available in your state.
  2. Pay in Advance - Secure STM, the nation's largest issuer of short term medical insurance, gives a significant discount if you pay for multiple months in advance using the "single pay" option.
  3. Use the PPO Discount Card - While short term medical plans exclude coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, you can still benefit from significant savings by utilizing PPO discounts included with the short term medical plan.  HPA, the administrator for the Secure STM plans, includes a discount prescription drug plan.  (See the "Find a Doctor or Hospital" page at MedSave.com to find providers in your area).
  4. Find the Length of Coverage You Need - American Health Shield is the shortest plan, expiring after 6 months and allowing a maximum of 12 months of total coverage.  This plan is most popular with people changing jobs that have a short gap in coverage.  At the other end of the scale, HPA typically issues coverage for 3 years and allows unlimited number of re-applications.  So this plan is more popular for self-employed individuals.
  5. Consider Health Factors - Short term medical plans have different eligibility requirements, depending on the underwriter. The HPA plan is often the most expensive, but it is the easiest to qualify for if you have ongoing health issues.  High blood pressure medication, for example, will exclude you from the some plans but you are still eligible for coverage under the HPA plan.  MedSave.com offers a free online tool called "policy picker" that helps pick the best short term health insurance policy for any situation. None of these plans are available during a pregnancy or when a chronic medical situation is likely to require substantial ongoing medical care.
  6. Use the Best Doctors - Short term medical coverage allows you to use any doctor or hospital anywhere in the country.  So it makes sense to use the best medical providers you can find.  Your out-of-pocket cost is limited to your deductible and in some cases a co-insurance regardless of the amount of the medical bills.
  7. Consider State Rules - Short term medical insurance is meant to be portable.  But if you happen to live in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, or Vermont then short term medical insurance is not available.  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, coverage is equally valid throughout the U.S. and Canada regardless of where you may travel or move.
  8. Get Fast Service - One of the strongest features of short term medical insurance is that coverage is issued immediately.  Most people apply online and immediately print out a policy and ID card.  Overnight delivery service is available if necessary.
  9. Get Your ID Card Immediately - Your policy is usually mailed on the next business day, and most plans (except American Health Shield) offer the ability to print your policy and ID card immediately when you enroll online.
  10. Use OnlineAdviser Service - The professional enrollment adviser at MedSave.com has helped issue thousands of these policies in every state across the nation where short term medical insurance is available.  You will likely learn more tips that apply to your specific situation when you speak to the enrollment adviser in person. E-mail any questions to onlineadviser@medsave.com for fast professional response.

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