While you’re waiting for Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage to kick in, or for your insurance benefits from a new job, you’re facing a gap in medical coverage. It may be tempting to go without coverage and hope for the best, but this is a risky approach that may involve high medical bills — and the eventual challenge of paying them off — as well as the difficulty in getting proper healthcare. Short-term health insurance can help close this gap and minimize the risk until your longer-term policy begins.
What Is Short-Term Health Insurance?
Also known as temporary health insurance, short-term insurance was designed to plug the hole in coverage while you’re waiting for new benefits to start. You may be eligible if you are:
- Anticipating the beginning of other coverage
- Outside of open enrollment for the ACA
- Not working but expecting that a new job with benefits will come soon
- Awaiting eligibility for Medicare
Since short-term health insurance is meant to be supplemental and not a replacement for regular insurance, expect bare-bones underwriting to be used to determine your eligibility. If you have an existing medical condition, it won’t be covered under a short-term policy.
Florida short-term plans provide coverage for as many as 364 days. You can renew your plan for up to 36 months after that period runs out. However, keep in mind that if you have a plan that lasts longer than six months, you’re probably facing more stringent exclusions and less wide-ranging coverage, particularly when it comes to any preexisting conditions.
State-Specific Laws and Regulations
In Florida, the expiration of short-term health insurance coverage does not trigger a Special Enrollment Period. So you will have to wait until the standard enrollment period if you’re seeking a longer-term, HIPAA-compliant insurance plan afterward.1
In the past, Florida sought to limit exclusions for preexisting conditions. However, in June 2019, SB 3222 was passed, essentially allowing short-term plans to continue these exclusions so long as applicants are told about it upfront. In addition, the bill allowed renewals for short-term healthcare coverage policies.
How Much Do Short-Term Plans Typically Cost in Florida?
According to PivotHealth.com, monthly premiums for short-term insurance in Florida range from $127.48 to $655.60, with most in the $150 to $300 range. Deductibles begin at $1,000 and run as high as $20,000 for the plan with the least expensive monthly premium.
For copayments, plans run from $1,000 to $20,000. Coinsurance costs range from nothing up to 30% out-of-pocket.
How Can You Buy a Short-Term Insurance Plan in Florida?
Eight insurers offer short-term health insurance plans in Florida. These carriers are:
- Aspen Insurance
- Companion Life
- Everest Prime
- Independence American Insurance Company
- LifeShield National Insurance
- National General
- Standard Life Insurance
- United HealthCare (Golden Rule Insurance)
Is Short-Term Health Insurance Right for You?
You shouldn’t sign on the dotted line for anything — including short-term health insurance — unless you’re confident that it’s the right move for your personal situation. Here are some issues you’ll want to consider:
- Affordability. Short-term health insurance plans are more affordable than long-term options, but with this savings come a few compromises. There are caps on hospital, prescription drug, and other coverage, and your out-of-pocket costs could go up a lot if you need more care. If you’re not in good health or have a preexisting condition, this may not be the right choice for you.
- Enrollment. While you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period after an ACA individual policy ends, this is not the case with short-term insurance coverage. Since it’s not considered minimum essential coverage, you won’t get a Special Enrollment Period when it ends. If you want to sign up for an ACA policy after your short-term coverage ends, you’ll have to wait until the standard enrollment period, which runs from November 1 to December 15.3
- How’s your health? If all you need is routine medical visits, emergency and urgent care, and basic prescriptions, short-term insurance may be the way to go. That said, if you have a preexisting condition or other health concerns, this may not be the best choice.
- What’s your personal life situation? Are you between jobs? Waiting for new benefits to kick in? Just getting off your parents’ health insurance? If this is the case, short-term healthcare coverage may be the best option for your needs as a landing point while you figure out the next move.
When Might Short-Term Health Insurance Not Be the Right Choice for You?
Helpful as it can be in certain situations, short-term healthcare coverage is not equipped to address all needs. Those with preexisting medical conditions or who believe they may face a serious medical issue in the future will not be well served by this relatively low level of coverage. Short-term health plans won’t necessarily cover all the essential health benefits required for ACA plans. These essential 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
You might think twice about opting for a short-term health insurance policy if you need any of the above benefits.
If you’re looking for a temporary solution on medical insurance, and you don’t have a lot of medical needs, a short-term health insurance policy might be the right answer for you. But these plans have a lot of restrictions, so be sure to check your plan carefully before you sign up. Residents of the Sunshine State have many options to consider for coverage.