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Temporary health insurance can help bridge a short-term coverage gap, whether you’ve recently lost an employer-sponsored plan or you’re waiting for new coverage to begin.A short-term health insurance plan is not designed to be a long-term solution, but this coverage can help if you experience an accident or major illness during a period when you don’t have comprehensive health insurance.1

Here’s what you should know before buying a temporary health insurance plan.

What Is Temporary Health Insurance?

Temporary health insurance, or short-term health insurance, may be an inexpensive option that can help cover unforeseen accidents or illnesses during a time frame in which you don’t have health insurance coverage. Short-term health insurance plans are available year-round, and many plans offer next-day coverage. Temporary health insurance plans focus on protecting against unforeseen accidents or illnesses. 

What Does Temporary Health Insurance Cover?

Temporary health insurance plans offer limited coverage; typically, they do not provide the same comprehensive coverage as an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan.2 They do not cover pre-existing conditions and are medically underwritten. Short-term health plans are not comprehensive plans, so they are not required to cover the ACA’s 10 essential benefits, including routine office visits, preventive care, maternity care, mental health services, and prescription drugs (outside of hospitalization).3 However, some temporary medical insurance plans will provide coverage for some of these services.2 Before enrolling in a short-term health plan, carefully check the plan’s benefits.

How Long Can You Have Short-Term Health Insurance? 

Short-term health plans can be purchased outside of the Open Enrollment Period for up to 364 days (just under one year).1 You may be able to reapply for coverage for up to 36 months (three years),1 depending on the state where you live. Also, temporary health insurance plans can often be cancelled, without penalty, at any time during the coverage term.4 Some states have limitations on temporary medical insurance policies.5 HealthMarkets can help you determine whether your state has short-term plan restrictions. 

Can You Get Temporary Health Insurance Between Jobs? 

Yes, you may apply for temporary medical insurance between jobs.1 Short-term health insurance can also be a beneficial, cost-effective option for people who are:3

  • Waiting to be enrolled in a group plan by a new employer.
  • Recent college grads.
  • Transitioning from a spouse or parent’s health plan.
  • Making a career change.
  • Seasonally employed.
  • Needing coverage outside of the Open Enrollment Period.
  • Waiting for enrollment in Medicare after retirement.

What You Should Know About Having Temporary Health Insurance 

A short-term health insurance plan may work for your needs if you are generally healthy, between comprehensive health insurance options, and need affordable gap insurance. But it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages that come with temporary medical insurance. 

Here are four major things you should know about short-term health insurance before buying a policy:2

  1. Premiums are often lower than Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. Because coverage is limited, short-term plans may provide people with an affordable premium.
  2. You can be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Temporary medical plans require medical underwriting, meaning that your medical history and information will be considered before you are provided with coverage. You could be denied a short-term insurance plan if you have pre-existing health conditions or a health problem prior to the date your new coverage is expected to start.
  3. You may be able to reapply for coverage for up to 36 months.3 Short-term plans have coverage terms up to 364 days (one year), and you may be able to reapply for coverage for up to 36 months (three years), depending on your state’s regulations. But any condition you have or develop during your short-term plan period could be considered a pre-existing condition when you “re-apply” for a new plan.
  4. Several states have created their own limits. These include bans, term limits of six months or less, and restrictions on opportunities to reapply for coverage.

Where Can I Get Temporary Health Insurance?2

You may be able to get temporary health insurance from a private insurance company, depending on where you live. Many states have created their own temporary medical insurance limitations, which can restrict both the length of the initial term and the amount of allowed terms. 

How Do I Get Temporary Health Insurance?

HealthMarkets can answer your questions about how to get a short-term health insurance plan and help you apply for the best temporary health insurance option for your needs. Get a free quote, compare plans, and apply for temporary health insurance today. If you’re looking for other options, we can help you get covered, even if your best option isn’t a plan we offer. Get started today!


1. “When Should I Use Short-Term Health Insurance?” The Balance. Updated March 12, 2020. Retrieved from
2. “ACA Open Enrollment: For Consumers Considering Short-Term Policies.” October 25, 2019. Retrieved from
3. “Is Short-Term Health Insurance a Good idea?” Policygenius. September 10, 2019. Retrieved from
4. “Short term health insurance FAQs.” UnitedHealthcare. Retrieved from
5. “Short-Term Limited-Duration Health Plans.” National Association of Insurance Commissioners. April 17, 2020. Retrieved from

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