Yes there are, many of them in fact. They provide temporary health insurance coverage to people who need health insurance coverage for a short period, generally from one to six months. They are usually offered by private health insurance companiesand are intended to provide coverage to fill gaps in benefits people may have due to changing jobs or for early retirees waiting for Medicare to kick in.
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Temporary coverage is also a good health insurance option for students who are no longer on their parents’ plan and are waiting for a new job’s plan to begin covering them. Seasonal workers and non-U.S. Citizens working in the United States may also benefit from temporary health insurance.
Are temporary health insurance policies very expensive?
No, they are generally less expensive than traditional policies. Many companies offer a wide range of pricing on these plans and due to the short time they are in effect, their liability is much less than it would be normally.
Note that the policy is generally not renewable like a traditional health insurance plan. If your needs for such a policy extend beyond the term of the plan, you will have to reapply for another policy.
Health insurance qualification questions are generally of the yes or no type, and coverage starts very quickly, sometimes as early as the day after your application is approved and payment arrangements are made.
Are there different types of these policies?
Yes there are. Some policies offer co-pay features similar to employer plans and are a good choice for people who want as little change in the way they do things as possible. There are plans that offer set deductibles and coinsurance rates for people looking for more certainty in their health care expenses. There are also value plans that offer lower premiums, but with higher deductibles and coinsurance percentages. This would be a good option for those younger workers between jobs or situations who may not need as much health care in the short term and wish to keep costs to a minimum.
Do these policies cover prescription drugs?
Do they cover dental and vision expenses?
Due the nature of the policy, a short-term safety net in case of unexpected illness or injury, they very often do not cover dental and vision expenses. You may be able to add these benefits by purchasing a separate policy specifically addressing those needs.
Do short-term health insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions?
Treatment for pre-existing conditions is usually excluded. Note that this includes symptoms that existed before you buy the policy, treated or not. In addition, when buying a second round of short-term insurance, conditions treated under the first policy will most likely not be covered by the second policy.
What else might not be covered by temporary health insurance?
Preventative care is usually not covered. Routine examinations, immunizations, substance abuse treatment, and pregnancy treatments are likewise not covered under almost all short-term policies.
What about COBRA continuation health insurance?
In 1986, the federal government passed a law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that makes changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Public Health Service Act and to the Internal Revenue Code to make sure that group health coverage you have that might be terminated can continue. The coverage is only available under certain conditions and is usually more expensive than the cost of the employer plan in which the worker is paying part.
Generally, any termination of employment, voluntary or involuntary, that does not involve gross misconduct means you would qualify for a COBRA policy. You should note that COBRA guarantees you the exact same coverage you were getting before your circumstances changed and made you ineligible to stay on your employer’s policy.
The downside of COBRA coverage is that you may have to pay the entire premium amount. Full details can be seen at the United States Department of Labor’s website.
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