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What is a short-term health insurance plan?

short term plan

A short-term health insurance plan may offer lower cost premiums for health insurance coverage. It’s important to note these plans are not required to include the essential health benefits mandated under the Affordable Care Act. However, a short-term plan may offer a temporary solution for coverage while you wait for open enrollment to begin if you do not qualify for a special enrollment period.

Is a short-term plan right for you?

If you are looking for a temporary solution to fill a gap in coverage, a short-term plan may be a good option for you. However, you also may want to consider the benefits of applying for a qualified health plan through Maryland Health Connection. You may find these benefits outweigh the positives of short-term plans.

If you just got married, had a baby, or lost coverage through your employer, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This period allows you to obtain or change a health plan through Maryland Health Connection outside the open enrollment period. Plans through Maryland Health Connection cover essential health benefits such as medical expenses associated with pregnancy, mental health or substance use disorder treatment, and you will not be denied if you have a pre-existing condition. Maryland Health Connection is the only place you can receive financial help with your health plan.

If you think you may be eligible for Medicaid or MCHP, you can apply any time. You don’t have to wait until open enrollment to apply. Income limits are higher for pregnant women and children, so if you’re pregnant you should apply, even if you did not qualify for Medicaid in the past.

What do these plans cover?

short term plans

In Maryland, short-term medical plans are not required to cover mental health services, outpatient prescription drugs, substance use disorder treatment or maternity care. Depending on the plan, it may not meet essential health benefit requirements, including preventive care such as screenings, check-ups, and immunizations. If you have a pre-existing condition, you may not qualify for a short-term plan. Short-term medical plans may have limits on benefits, which means the policy may not cover all of your expenses if you have a serious illness or injury.

How can I get a short-term plan?

This non-renewable health plan is issued for a maximum period of less than three months. Short-term plans are not renewable, so you have to apply again when the initial 

coverage period ends if you want to be covered for an additional short period. You can enroll in a short-term health insurance plan directly with an insurance company that offers the plan by visiting the company’s website.

Who sells short-term plans?

Licensed companies called admitted insurance companies, as well as surplus-lines insurance companies, sell short-term plans. You may only get a short-term plan from surplus-lines insurance companies if you are:

  • a United States resident who will be traveling to another country within 30 days of the effective date of coverage; or
  • a non-United States resident who is traveling to the U.S. within 30 days of the effective date of coverage for a purpose other than attending a Maryland college or university.

For more information about short-term plans, please see this fact sheet by the Maryland Insurance Administration.  

To find out if you are eligible for coverage through Maryland Health Connection, visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov for more information.

About Maryland Health Connection

Maryland Health Connection is Maryland’s official health insurance marketplace for individuals and families to compare plans and enroll in health and dental coverage. It’s the only place to get financial help with health insurance. See if you qualify for financial help like tax credits or Medicaid/MCHP to make health insurance more affordable.

Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov to enroll, or download our free Enroll MHC mobile app for Android and iPhone.

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