Finding yourself in an in-between period for medical insurance? Consider Michigan short-term health coverage. Whether you’re waiting for benefits from a new job to kick in or you’re just getting off your parents’ insurance, opting for short-term coverage can spare you the risks and costs of a gap in coverage.
What Is Short-Term Health Insurance?
Short-term health plans are a temporary insurance option that typically runs from a few months to a year in length. The insurance is meant as an affordable way to bridge the gap between when your previous benefits expire and your new, long-term medical insurance begins. You may be eligible if you are:
- Waiting for Medicare eligibility to start
- Unemployed, but waiting for a new job with benefits to begin
- Starting graduate school
- Getting off your parents’ health insurance and searching for your own coverage
- Outside of open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage
In Michigan, as with other states, short-term health insurance is designed as a lower-cost supplement, rather than a replacement for regular coverage. This means that if you have certain medical issues — including preexisting conditions such as obesity, diabetes, or sleep apnea — you might not get the amount of coverage you need from short-term policies.
State-Specific Laws and Regulations
In Michigan, short-term plans are limited to 185 days and cannot be renewed. While you are permitted to buy multiple short-term policies, you are not allowed to exceed the 185-day limit1 in any 365-day period. Keep in mind that purchasing a short-term plan may make you ineligible for other types of health insurance policies, and that if you develop a medical condition during one short-term plan, your eligibility for new short-term plans may also be affected.
How Much Do Short-Term Plans Typically Cost in Michigan?
According to PivotHealth.com, monthly premiums for short-term insurance in Michigan range from $61.56 to $265.91. Deductibles begin at $1,000 and run as high as $20,000 for plans with less expensive monthly premiums. For coinsurance, plans run from zero to 30%. For copayments, maximum out-of-pocket costs range from $1,000 to $20,000.
How Can You Buy a Short-Term Insurance Plan in Michigan?
Five insurers offer short-term plans in Michigan. Call the companies or check their websites to see the details of what they offer. They are:
- Companion Life
- Independence American Insurance Company
- Priority Health
- Standard Life
- United Healthcare (Golden Rule)
Aggregators such as PivotHealth also offer short-term insurance plans.
Is Short-Term Health Insurance Right for You?
Before you commit to a short-term health insurance plan, be sure that this is the right choice for your needs. Here are some things to consider:
- What can you afford? While Michigan short-term plans tend to be more affordable than longer-term options, this affordability comes at a cost. Short-term policies are focused on basic or emergency care. If you have a lot of medical needs, you could end up paying more out-of-pocket, which could significantly increase your medical spending. If you’re not expecting to need much medical care, then this level of coverage may work for you.
- How’s your health? Short-term health insurance in Michigan is best for you if all you need is occasional medical visits, emergency and urgent care as well as preventive care and basic prescriptions. Since preexisting conditions and other, more intensive services, such as more frequent doctor visits or maternity care, are not covered under these policies, think about your specific needs before making a commitment.
- When do you want to enroll? You can sign up anytime and start coverage. Short-term insurance coverage is not considered minimum essential coverage, though, so it won’t qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual policy. If you’re looking to enroll in an ACA policy after your short-term coverage ends, you’ll need to wait until the standard enrollment period of November 1 to December 15.
- What’s your personal situation? If you’re getting off your parents’ health insurance, between jobs, or waiting for new benefits to kick in, a temporary solution might work well for you. Otherwise, you might want to look for a longer-term solution instead.
When Is Short-Term Health Insurance Not the Right Choice for You?
Short-term healthcare coverage isn’t designed to cater to all medical needs. If you think you might be facing a serious medical issue in the future, you plan to get pregnant, or you have a preexisting condition, this relatively low level of insurance might leave you paying more out-of-pocket. Think about whether you need the ACA’s essential health benefits — which generally aren’t included in a short-term policy — before deciding to sign on the dotted line. These benefits include:
- Emergency services
- Maternity and newborn care
- Prescription drugs
- Ambulatory services
- Mental-health and substance abuse treatment
- Laboratory work
- Pediatric services
- Chronic disease management
- Rehabilitative services
If you expect to need any of these benefits, you should look elsewhere for coverage.
In certain situations, a short-term health insurance policy can be the right answer for limited medical needs if you’re looking to bridge a gap in health insurance coverage. However, make sure the plan you’re considering meets your medical needs before you sign up.
1. Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. “Can issuers extend or renew short-term limited duration policies for longer than permitted by Michigan law?” michigan.gov (accessed July 29, 2020).