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Temporary Health Insurance 101
The need for temporary health insurance can happen for a variety of reasons: between jobs, on strike, seasonal employee, etc. Also commonly referred to as short term health insurance, temporary health insurance is issued for a limited period of time, typically from 30 days to 12 months. Temporary health insurance is meant to be a short term solution to temporary problems, and always has a specified termination date. In any case, you may be surprised that it is easier to qualify for such a plan than it is for the traditional longer term, or permanent, plan.
The main reason temporary health insurance is easier to qualify for than permanent health insurance has to do with the level of risk that an insurance company assumes. With a short term plan, the insurance company is not accepting a long term risk. However, with permanent health insurance, an individual potentially can stay on the same policy until he or she is eligible for Medicare at age 65.
The application process is also typically simpler for temporary health insurance. Typically, only a few questions are required to determine eligibility. Some of the more common questions would ask about any currently held policies and when they are scheduled to end, any current pregnancy, whether you have you been refused health insurance in the past, and any past medical conditions you have been treated for (e.g. cancer, diabetes, heart problems, stroke, blood disorders, history of alcohol or drug dependency, HIV, etc.).
As you might expect, your eligibility for temporary health insurance will depend on your health history and how you answer the questions above. Temporary health plans generally do not cover preexisting conditions, which is another reason they are easier to obtain. Nonetheless, you may still be eligible for one of these plans, but would likely not receive any benefits for treatment of your preexisting condition. Accordingly, the underwriting process for temporary health insurance is much shorter than it is for permanent plans. In most cases, if you qualify, you can expect coverage to begin within 24 hours of applying.
Lastly, although it is easier to qualify for temporary health insurance, it’s usually wise to think of such insurance as only a “stop gap” solution to get you by until you are eligible for a better, longer term plan. In addition, even though short term coverage is less comprehensive, being without any coverage is risky; and given the relative ease with which you can receive a short term policy, there really is no reason not to protect yourself and you family.
About the Author: Jonathon James has been working in the health industry for nearly twenty years. To view additional articles and resources related to temporary health insurance, please visit