Short-Term and Other Policies Sold Outside of the Marketplace

I notice short-term policies are for sale outside of the Marketplace and they are cheaper than many other policies. What is a short-term policy?

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As the name implies, a short-term health insurance policy offers coverage for a period of less than 12 months.  Many offer coverage for just 3 to 6 months.  Beyond that term, coverage generally can only be continued if the insurance company agrees.  This is sometimes called a non-guaranteed-renewable policy.  If you’ve made claims since you bought the short-term policy, the insurer can, and likely will refuse to continue coverage once the policy term ends.

In addition, short-term policies do not offer other protections found in Marketplace plans.  For example, short-term policies can exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions.  Short-term policies also typically do not cover essential health benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, or maternity care.

While we have made every effort to provide accurate information in these FAQs, people should contact the health insurance Marketplace or Medicaid agency in their state for guidance on their specific circumstances.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.