What You Need to Know
Missouri short-term health plans provide coverage for periods of six months and can be renewed up to 36 months.
Short-term health plans are not required to cover preexisting conditions or offer the 10 essential benefits that all ACA plans cover.
Monthly premiums for short-term plans are usually less than what you will pay for a plan through the Affordable Care Act, unless you qualify for an ACA subsidy.
If you’re between jobs or waiting for other health insurance to start, you may be looking for a health policy to fill the gap. A short-term health insurance plan may be a good option to protect you against unexpected illnesses or injuries.
Short-term plans provide temporary health coverage. They can be inexpensive compared with plans offered through the ACA Marketplace. But you’ll want to do your homework. Short-term plans provide limited coverage and, under any circumstances, have higher out-of-pocket costs.
Who Should Buy Short-Term Plans in Missouri?
Consider the following when deciding if short-term health insurance is your best choice to bridge a gap in coverage:
- Affordability: Short-term plans are often lower in cost than ACA plans, if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. Keep in mind that you’ll trade low monthly premiums for higher out-of-pocket costs when you need medical care.
- Enrollment: You can pick up short-term insurance at any time, unlike an ACA plan, where enrollment is limited to certain times of the year. It’s important to plan ahead for when your short-term plan ends. Termination of a short-term plan won’t qualify you for an ACA special enrollment period. That means, you’ll have to wait until Open Enrollment, which typically runs from November 1 to January 15 each year, to sign up for an ACA plan.
- Your Health Status: A short-term plan makes the most sense if you’re relatively healthy and anticipate only needing coverage for routine or emergency medical care. That’s because short-term plans are not required to cover preexisting conditions. If you have any current health conditions, a short-term plan may not be your best option. What’s more, short-term plans don’t have to cover the ACA’s 10 essential benefits. You’ll find that short-term policies may not offer benefits for maternity care, mental health services, prescription drugs or preventive health care. 1
- Life Events: Because it is temporary, short-term health insurance can be of most benefit during certain times of your life, like when you:
- Are between jobs.
- Have a new job and are waiting for other benefits to start.
- Miss the open enrollment period to sign up for an ACA plan.
- Age off your parent’s plan.
- Retire before the age of 65 and are not yet eligible for Medicare benefits.
A flexible option
You can enroll in a short-term plan at any time. You don’t have to wait for an enrollment period to begin.
If you have medical conditions or need the essential benefits that are offered by ACA plans, a short-term plan may not be your best option. If you need a higher level of health care coverage, you should consider other alternatives.
In summary, short-term plans have benefits and drawbacks. Here are the main points:
- Short-term plans can provide temporary health insurance coverage during certain times of your life and protect you from unexpected health expenses.
- For those who are relatively healthy, short-term plans may be more affordable than an ACA plan.
- Short-term plans have high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.
- Preexisting conditions and essential health benefits may not be covered.
How Much Are Missouri Short-Term Plans?
When shopping for health insurance, monthly premiums are only part of the costs. To compare plans, it’s important to understand all costs involved with coverage, including:
- Premiums — what you pay each month for your health plan.
- Deductibles — the total amount you pay before your insurance starts to pay its share of your medical costs.
- Coinsurance — the percent you pay for your medical care, after you’ve met your deductible.
- Copayments — the fixed fees you pay for a covered service, after you’ve met your deductible. Copayments are often different for each type of visit, service, or provider.
What would a short-term plan cost for a 35-year-old woman living in Missouri? According to Pivot Health, monthly premiums range from:
- $77 to $381 in Kansas City, MO
- $81 to $382 in St. Louis, MO
You can expect the plans with low monthly premiums to have higher deductibles. Both low premium plans listed above have a $10,000 deductible, compared to $1,000 for the plans with higher monthly premiums. Coinsurance for all plans ranges from 20% to 30% and all cover mental health services and physical therapy.
Consider all costs
Make sure you understand your coverage and what you’ll pay if you need care.
What Are Rules Governing Short-Term Plans in Missouri?
According to federal guidelines, short-term health insurance carriers can sell 12-month plans, renewable up to 36 months. 2 In Missouri, short-term plans are limited to 6 months, renewable up to 36 months. 3
Because many short-term plans require medical underwriting, you may be denied based on your health conditions. And if you develop any health conditions while you are covered, you may not be able to renew for an additional term.
Who Sells Short-Term Plans in Missouri?
Health insurance companies that offer short-term plans vary from state to state. In Missouri, some of the carriers include:
- Companion Life Insurance Company (Pivot Health)
- Independence American Insurance Company
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance Company)
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
You have many options when it comes to health insurance in Missouri. Whether a short-term plan is right for you will depend on your health and financial needs.
If you’re experiencing a gap in your health insurance, a short-term plan may make sense. But it’s important to compare costs and coverage carefully from your health insurance carrier. Why? So you understand your coverage and know what to expect.