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Short Term Health Plans
Short term health insurance is usually sought by people when they
are between permanent insurance plans, for example, between jobs,
or when they are laid off, or while waiting to have a group policy.
Short term health insurance plans may not be a lasting solution
to one’s health care needs, but they can ensure continuity
of coverage. Such short term plans usually cover an insurer for
a short period, normally from one to six months, although a few
insurers can agree to extend their coverage up to 12 months. Although
you can renew your plan, short-term health plan usually cannot continue
for more than 365 total days. Naturally, these plans are suitable
for those who end up "between" insurance plans. For example,
a short term health plan will come in extremely handy for a recent
college graduate who may no longer be covered by his/her parents'
policy and may not have a job offering benefits yet. Living without
coverage can mean delaying necessary treatments or incurring expensive
medical bills; so a short term health insurance plan would provide
coverage till he/she can obtain long-term coverage through an employer
or a private plan.
If you plan to qualify for short term health plans, most insurers
will require you to be in fairly good health and under 65 years
of age. Some plans, however, can extend coverage to dependents under
the age of 19, or under 25 for dependents who are full-time students.
Short term health plans usually do not cover pre-existing conditions.
Pre-existing conditions are different in different states, but most
describe it as any illness or health problem that you have been
diagnosed with during the last three to five years. Short term health
plans generally include: your choice of doctors and hospitals, charges
for inpatient and outpatient services by medical pros, hospital
room and board charges, intensive care unit charges, ambulance services,
diagnostic lab exams and x-rays and prescription drugs. In general,
short term plans do not include: pre-existing conditions, routine
medical tests, dental care, pregnancy and childbirth expenses, intentionally
self-inflicted injury, expenses not medically necessary and medical
expenses outside the United States.
You are likely to incur some medical costs if you become injured
or chronically ill while covered by short term health plan. The
costs will depend on your deductible amount. Your insurer will not
begin to pay you any of the costs until after the first deductible
amount in expenses. So it is better to opt for a low deductible
even though it means higher premium. Some plans may not cover all
of your medical expenses either. You may be expected to pay 20%
while the insurance covers the other 80%, for instance. Before you
select a plan, you must know how much of your expenses will be covered.
Other costs, such as prescriptions, are typically not covered by
your policy either.
Apart from insurance companies, some professional organizations
and associations offer short term health plans as well. Such a coverage
can often be implemented immediately, on many occasions the same
day that one’s application is received. Many insurance companies
may also offer you a choice between a single payment or a monthly
premium, as well as a choice of plan deductible limits. They may
also offer you free look period (usually the first 10 days after
you receive the policy) to decide whether you would like to keep
or cancel your policy for a full refund.