Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers

Everest, UnitedHealthcare, Pivot Health, and IHC are the top choices

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Short-term health or short-term medical insurance plans are intended to fill a temporary gap in health insurance coverage. They can be a good fit for those who aren't eligible for group health insurance, can't afford COBRA, or aren't eligible for special enrollment in an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan or missed open enrollment. The best short-term health insurance plans cover essential benefits at an affordable price.

We considered 14 major health insurance companies and whether they offer short-term health insurance. We then looked at plan metrics including maximum coverage benefits; length of coverage; coinsurance, deductibles, and maximum out-of-pocket options; waiting periods; pre-existing conditions coverage; network restrictions; pre-certification requirements; other exclusions; and cost.

Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers of 2023

Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers
Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers

Best Coverage for the Price : Pivot Health


Pivot Health

Pivot Health

  • No. Policy Types: Varies
  • Coverage Limit ($): $100,000 to $1 million
  • No. States Available: Varies
Why We Chose It

Pivot Health provides a selection of affordable basic coverages and valuable options so that you can get the right policy for the right price, with the ability to add discounts for items like prescription drugs and vision care.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Access to 24/7 telemedicine

  • Prescription discount options

  • No network restrictions

Cons
  • Low maximums on the cheapest plans

  • Requires emergency pre-certification within 48 hours

  • Does not cover pre-existing conditions

Overview

Pivot Health is a division of HealthCare.com, a leader in technology-enabled health insurance solutions with a team of health insurers, financial experts, and technical experts. Pivot Health's online tools help you prioritize your insurance needs, and the company offers a selection of available features.

The company stands out for value by offering discounts on prescription drugs and 15% to 30% off eye exams, frames, and contact lenses. Deductibles range from $1,000 and $10,000, with maximum annual limits of $100,000 to $1 million. The out-of-pocket cost for coinsurance is between $3,000 and $10,000.

Exclusions include pre-existing conditions, immunizations, routine physical exams, and injuries resulting from extreme sports. The waiting periods are five days for illness, 30 days for cancer, and six months for services such as a tonsillectomy.

Shortest Waiting Period : Everest


Everest logo

Everest

  • No. Policy Types: 1
  • Coverage Limit ($): $250,000 to $1.5 million
  • No. States Available: Varies
Why We Chose It 

We chose Everest as the best choice if you're looking to avoid long waiting periods because some of its plan benefits kick in after one day. Additionally, Everest has low deductibles, reasonable prices, and a flexible physician network. Everest earns an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, an independent insurance rating agency.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Not confined to in-network choice

  • Low co-pay and coinsurance options

  • Length of coverage options

Cons
  • Prescriptions not covered unless hospitalized

  • Pre-existing conditions not covered

  • Unavailable in all states

Overview

Everest Reinsurance has been underwriting insurance since 1973 and holds an AM Best financial strength rating of A+ (Superior) with various policy types on the market, including property, casualty, specialty, accident, and health insurance.

Everest offers the FlexTerm Health Insurance Plan, a short-term health insurance plan to cover unforeseen accidents and illnesses with features that include monthly or pre-pay payment options and a free-look period. The FlexTerm offers coverage limits ranging from $250,000 to $1,500,000.

Policies include various co-insurance options and deductibles ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 with a co-pay option of $50.

Best for Longest Coverage : UnitedHealthcare


UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare

  • No. Policy Types: Varies
  • Coverage Limit ($): $500,000 to $2 million
  • No. States Available: 25
Why We Chose It

UnitedHealthcare is our top choice for extended policy options because it offers TriTerm Medical, a short-term, limited-duration health insurance that lasts nearly 36 months over three terms.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Up to three-year policy available

  • Preventive care wellness checks covered

  • Large provider network

  • Prescription options available

Cons
  • Only available in 25 states

  • Limited to in-network care

  • Waiting period for most services

Overview

UnitedHealthcare underwrites its policies through Golden Rule Insurance Company, a part of UnitedHealthcare since 2003. The company has provided short-term health insurance for over 30 years, available in 25 states. UnitedHealthcare has AM Best financial strength rating of A+ (Superior).

Offered through TriTerm Medical Insurance, extended policies vary from one month to 12 months, with options to renew for up to 36 months. Policies include network coverage with nearly 1,500,000 physicians and more than 7,000 hospitals and medical facilities with required waiting periods.

Various preventative care options are available, and a Copay Select plan includes a $50 copay. Prescription coverage is offered with coinsurance, and limited coverage for home health care, rehabilitation, and hospice is available.

Final Verdict

While short-term medical insurance is much more limited than a typical health insurance policy, the best short-term health insurance policies are a temporary stop-gap between plans provided by an employer or purchased on the marketplace.

Our top pick for short-term health insurance is Pivot Health, which offers discounts on prescription drugs and and the best value options. Everest has short waiting periods and offers Flex Term Health Insurance with an open physician network and coverage benefits of up to $1.5 million. For extended short-term options, United Healthcare offers a three-year renewal option.

Compare the Best Short-Term Health Insurance Providers

Company Name Plans (#) Coverage Limit Waiting Period Deductible
Pivot Health
Best if You Want Good Coverage for the Price
Varies $100,000 to $1 million 5 days to 6 months $1,000 - $10,000
Everest
Best if You Want to Avoid Long Waiting Periods
1 $250,000 to $1.5 million 1 day to 6 months $1,000 - $10,000
UnitedHealthcare
Best if You Need Short-Term Coverage for Multiple Years
Varies $500,000 to $2 million 6 to 12 months $2,500- $15,000

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do You Need Short-Term Health Insurance?

    If you lose health insurance coverage, you may need to purchase short-term health insurance or be eligible for COBRA insurance. You also may be able to sign up for a new policy through the health insurance marketplace if you’ve experienced a qualifying event such as loss of healthcare coverage, change in residence, or other life changes such as marriage, divorce, or having a baby.

  • How Do You Compare Short-Term Health Insurance Providers?

    Factors to consider when shopping for short-term health insurance include coverage limits, deductibles, availability in your state, and prescription coverage.

  • Who Is Eligible for Short-Term Health Insurance?

    Short-term health insurance provides limited coverage as a temporary bridge while you wait to qualify for an ACA-compliant plan. You may be eligible if you are:

    • Leaving a job that had a health insurance plan and not qualifying for COBRA plans
    • Retiring early and looking for temporary insurance until qualifying for Medicare
    • No longer qualifying for a group plan due to divorce
    • Moving to a new state where an existing plan cannot follow and waiting until a new plan starts
    • Students or young adults turning 26 who no longer qualify for their parents' insurance
    • People who want to have a plan with no network and find ACA plans too expensive


  • How Can You Buy Short-Term Health Insurance?

    Short-term health insurance is available through quotes you can obtain by phone or directly on an insurance company's website. Short-term coverage always is a lower-cost health insurance option. Check if you qualify for a special enrollment period, and be sure and check what you can get in the ACA marketplace first. Some zero-premium Bronze ACA plans are available for low-income enrollees.

  • What Does Short-Term Health Insurance Exclude?

    Short-term health plans have many exclusions, including zero coverage for pre-existing conditions. Short-term health plans are not subject to the ACA provisions and are not ACA-compliant, and have significant risks of incurring medical debt due to high deductibles, extensive exclusions, and, because of this, potential denials of coverage. Up to 71% of plans do not cover outpatient prescription drugs, and no short-term health plans cover maternity care.

  • How Does Short-Term Health Insurance Compare to COBRA?

    COBRA plans allow you to maintain coverage through your employer or previous group benefits, including all the ACA-compliant essential benefits and coverage for items like pregnancy or mental health if your former plan covered it. In contrast, short-term medical plans provide much less coverage and no essential benefits.

Methodology

We looked at 14 major health insurance companies to determine which offer short-term health insurance plans. We investigated and compared the following to determine which are the best short-term health insurance companies for different use cases:

  • waiting periods
  • lengths of coverage available
  • coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • other qualifications for coverage
  • coverage types available
  • exclusions
  • maximum benefit limits
  • maximum out-of-pocket costs
  • deductibles
  • copays
  • network restrictions
  • cost
Short Term Health Insurance
Article Sources
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  1. PivotHealth. "About."

  2. Pivot Health. "Short-Term Medical Insurance," Pages 3,7.

  3. Pivot Health. "Short-Term Medical Insurance," Pages 5-6.

  4. Flex Term Health. "Temporary Medical Plans."

  5. Everest. "A Brief History of Everest Re Group, LTD."

  6. Everest. "Stock Information."

  7. UnitedHealthcare. "TriTerm Medical Insurance."

  8. UnitedHealthcare. "About Us."

  9. UnitedHealthcare. "Short Term Health Insurance."

  10. AM Best. "AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of UnitedHealth Group Incorporated and its Subsidiaries."

  11. United Healthcare. "Short Term Health Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)."

  12. United Healthcare. "TriTerm Medical insurance."

  13. Kaiser Family Foundation. "Analysis: Most Short-Term Health Plans Don’t Cover Drug Treatment or Prescription Drugs, and None Cover Maternity Care."