What You Need to Know
In Montana, the short-term health policies that are available offer terms of 6 months that can be renewed for a total duration of 36 months.
Monthly premiums for short-term health plans are generally less than what you would pay for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan without a subsidy.
Short-term health plans are not required to cover the 10 essential benefits that are included in all ACA plans or preexisting conditions.
It’s common to experience a gap in health insurance coverage. But going without health insurance is risky. If you’ve lost your health insurance or are waiting for new coverage to start, a short-term health plan may be a good option for you.
Short-term health insurance provides temporary coverage for a short period of time. In Montana, several companies offer short-term plans. In general, these plans have lower premiums than ACA plans (unless you qualify for a subsidy). However, you’ll find that they have high deductibles and provide more limited coverage.
Who Should Buy Short-Term Plans in Montana?
Here are some important things to know if you are considering a Montana short-term health insurance plan:
- Affordability: The monthly premiums for temporary health insurance plans are often cheaper than ACA plans if you’re not eligible for a subsidy. The trade-off, though, is higher out-of-pocket costs.
- Enrollment: You can sign up for a short-term plan at any time. That makes it a good option if you missed the ACA Open Enrollment period. Keep in mind that a loss in coverage of a short-term plan does not qualify you for an ACA special enrollment period. So, when your short-term plan ends, you can’t sign up for an ACA plan with an insurance carrier until Open Enrollment. That generally lasts from November 1 to January 15 each year.
- Your Health Status: Short-term health insurance carriers aren’t required to cover the 10 essential benefits that ACA plans offer, like maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment and preventive care. They also don’t cover preexisting conditions. 1 A short-term plan may make sense if you’re relatively healthy and anticipate only needing coverage for routine medical care and emergency services.
- Life Events: Short-term health insurance can help bridge gaps in health insurance coverage, such as when:
- You’re between jobs or waiting for coverage to start at a new job
- You missed the ACA open enrollment period
- You turned 26 and have aged off your parents’ plan
- You’re retiring before age 65 and are not yet eligible for Medicare
- You’re getting divorced and losing coverage under your spouse’s plan
A short-term plan may not be a good choice if you’re pregnant or have medical conditions that require ongoing care. If you need more coverage, other health insurance options are available.
Bridging the gap
If you’re between jobs or waiting to enroll in Medicare or an ACA plan, a short-term plan may make sense.
Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide if a short-term plan is right for you:
- A short-term plan can fill a gap in coverage created by a job change or other life event.
- You can pick up a short-term plan at any time.
- Short-term plans may be an affordable option if you’re relatively healthy.
- Short-term plans have high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.
- Short-term plans are not required to cover the 10 essential health benefits or preexisting conditions.
How Much Are Montana Short-Term Plans?
When shopping for health insurance, it’s important to understand the costs of coverage. These include:
- Premiums: The amount you pay each month for your health plan.
- Deductibles: The total amount you are responsible for before your insurance starts to share the costs of medical services.
- Coinsurance: The percent of medical costs you pay after you meet your deductible.
- Copayments: A fixed fee you pay for a covered service after you meet your deductible.
How much will you pay for a short-term plan in Montana? It depends on factors such as your age, gender, and health history.
Based on plans offered by Pivot Health, a 35-year-old woman living in Billings or Missoula, Montana could expect to pay a monthly premium ranging from $72 with a $20,000 deductible to $131 with a $5,000 deductible. Available plans have no coinsurance and few copayments, except for a $250 fee for an emergency room visit which is waived if you’re admitted. The overall maximum benefit is $500,000.
Consider all costs
Short-term policies usually have higher out-of-pocket costs than traditional plans.
What Are Rules Governing Short-Term Plans in Montana?
Federal regulations limit temporary insurance terms to less than 12 months, renewable for up to 36 months. 2 Montana follows federal rules, 3 however, the plans currently offered have terms of 6-months.
After the policy expires, renewals aren’t guaranteed. With each new term, short-term insurers may require you to re-qualify. That means if you get sick, you can be turned down.
Who Sells Short-Term Plans in Montana?
Companies that sell short-term insurance vary from state to state. In Montana, at least four insurance companies offer short-term plans:
- Companion Life Insurance Company (Pivot Health)
- Independence American Insurance Company
- National General Health Insurance
- UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule Insurance Company)
You have many health insurance options in Montana. Whether a short-term plan is your best choice depends on your life circumstances, your health and your budget.
As you search for health insurance, take time to compare the costs and coverage to find out if a short-term plan will meet your health and financial needs.