Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies

How to choose the right short-term health insurance for you

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Short-term health insurance, also known as short-term medical (STM) or term health insurance, can be a relatively inexpensive option for purchasing temporary coverage. It provides a “safety net” if you have a gap in your insurance and want to avoid a massive bill if you get a major injury or illness requiring hospitalization. If you are between jobs, waiting for Medicare eligibility, or have lost your coverage and do not want to risk waiting for Open Enrollment, short-term health insurance may be a good idea. Starting in 2023, about 2 million people are expected to be enrolled in short-term plans, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

STM coverage is available for purchase year-round, and depending on where you live, it can range in length from 30 days to 36 months. Short-term health insurance typically covers preventive care, like doctor visits and emergency care.  But, STM coverage is limited in what it covers and when it will pay. Plans often do not cover prescription drugs, pre-existing conditions, maternity care, or mental health. And deductibles—the amount you pay before insurance kicks in—can be really high. 

If you find yourself coming into a coverage gap and are considering STM, finding the best short-term health insurance coverage for your needs is crucial. It’s essential to shop around and read all the fine print because each company’s plans and rates will be different. We researched plans offered by leading insurance companies and gathered this list to help you find the best short-term health insurance plans. 

Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies

Regulations

Short term health insurance is regulated by the state. For example, 11 states do not offer any short-term plans—so check to see if STM is available where you live and for how many months the policies will cover.

Best Overall : Everest Reinsurance Company

Everest Reinsurance Company

Everest Reinsurance Company

Why We Chose It: We chose Everest as best overall because it offers reasonable prices, has low deductibles, allows you to see doctors who are out of network, and includes wellness visits, emergency care, and mental health care.

What We Like
  • Can see providers in any network

  • Low $50 copay

  • Available in 23 of the 39 states that offer STM

  • Benefits include physical therapy, wellness, home health care, mental health, and substance abuse

What We Don't Like
  • Only covers prescriptions prescribed during covered hospitalization

  • Three month maximum on all policies

  • No vision, dental, or preexisting conditions are covered

Everest Reinsurance Company is a relative newcomer to the insurance market (since 1973) but offers a wide range of rates and several benefits that other STM insurance plans do not have. Like all STM plans, Everest's short-term health insurance plans vary based on your age, health status, and how much you are willing to pay for deductibles and coinsurance.  All plans offer a $50 co-pay for doctor visits. The plans we researched ranged from $77 to $195 per month.

Everest has an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best. Deductibles range from $1,000, to $10,000, and maximum coverage benefits are $250,000 to $1,500,000. Coinsurance options are 50/50, 70/30, 80/20, or 100/0, and all have copays of $50.

While there's a five-day waiting period for the routine wellness benefit, ER coverage starts the next day. To receive cancer benefits, the disease must be newly diagnosed 30 days after the plan start date. Everest policies can be purchased online, or you can visit its website or contact a representative.

Best Value : Pivot Health

Pivot Health

Pivot Health

Why We Chose It: Pivot Health offers a budget-friendly basic STM coverage, with additional options available that cover specific things important to you, like prescription drugs or vision care.

What We Like
  • Can see providers in any network

  • Website provides downloadable fact sheet with pricing

  • Includes physical therapy, home health care, mental health

  • 24/7 access to telemedicine

  • Available in 29 of the 39 states which allow STM

What We Don't Like
  • Cheaper plans include very low maximum coverage 

  • ER pre-certification required within 48 hours

  • Prescription coverage only available in more expensive plans

Insurers that we researched charged from $68 per month to $77 per month for a 3-month policy. Of the carriers we looked at, Pivot Health came in at the lowest cost (about $68 dollars per month). This “bare-bones” coverage basically pays for almost nothing until you have met the $10,000 deductible. However, this Pivot plan does allow you to see any doctor and covers mental health services. After the deductible has been met, a visit to the emergency room or an outpatient lab test or X-ray will only cost you 20% coinsurance. The company charges a $19.95 enrollment fee. 

Pivot Health, which started in 2016, underwrites its short-term health plans through multiple companies with an AM Best financial stability rating of A+ (Excellent). Pivot Health is currently available in 29 states. The business is affiliated with the consumer advocacy group Communicating for America, which supports affordable health care for Americans. 

Pivot Health has an easy-to-use website. Select your state, age, gender, and specific insurance needs and it gives you quotes on available plans. You will need to enter your email address to get the quote, and agents are also available by phone to answer questions. 

All plans have zero (0%), 20% or 30% coinsurance, and deductibles range from $1,000 to $20,000. Maximum coinsurance cost is $0 to $10,000, with annual limits running from $100,000 and maxing out at $1 million. 

Like most STM plans, exclusions include pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, and chiropractic adjustments. Once you’re enrolled, there’s a five-day waiting for illness, 30 days for cancer, and six months for some procedures (like a tonsillectomy).

Best for Customized Coverage : The IHC Group/National General

The IHC Group

The IHC Group

Why We Chose It: The IHC Group/National General offers the most customizable plans of all the companies we researched. You get a wide range of deductibles and term lengths (from 6 to 36 months, depending on your state). Some plans offer the ability to add optional coverage for pre-existing conditions, which can be very important if you have one.

What We Like
  • Highly customizable plans in all price ranges

  • Telemedicine, check-ups included in some plans

  • X-rays and some other diagnostic exams included

  • Can see your own doctor, or out-of-network

  • Lifetime maximums up to $5,000,000

  • Pre-existing conditions covered on some plans up to $25,000

What We Don't Like
  • Highly customizable plans exclude many coverages

  • No online registration, must call or email

  • Sports-related injuries not covered

  • Some plans have high deductibles before you can access coverage

  • Some states require joining Communicating for America (CA)

IHC stands for International Holding Company—actually, three insurance carriers operating in 35 states Standard Security Life, Madison National, and Independence American. IHC was created in 1980, and has an AM Best Financial Strength Rating of A-. 

IHC offers a buffet of plan options, so you can choose the exact services you want.  Plans, prices, and coverage will depend on what state you live in, and you’ll need to request a quote online to see the exact offerings in your state and their costs. The plans we researched ranged from 6 months at about $104 dollars per month, to a 36-month policy for $298 per month. 

Examples of IHC’s offering include:

  • A 6-month plan, with a $10,000 deductible and $10,000 out-of-pocket maximum, no prescription coverage,  and a $1 million cap on services. 
  • A 12-month policy, with a $5000 out-of-pocket and deductible limit, no prescription coverage, and a $1 million cap on services. 
  • A 36-month policy (if your state allows that) with a $6,000 deductible, and a $5 million dollar cap on services. You will also have a $40 copay to see a primary care doctor, and a $60 copay to see a specialist.  Prescription drugs are covered with a $10 copay, but have a $3000 limit. 

For all plans, you have the option of adding dental or vision converge coverage for a relatively low monthly cost. You can also add hospital insurance, prescription discount plans, and telemedicine consultation options.

Overall, for all states IHC serves, deductibles ranged between $2,500 and $10,000. The coinsurance options were 20%, 30%, and 50%, with out-of-pocket maximums between $4,000 and $10,000, and service caps ranging from $1 million to $5 million. Pre-existing conditions (going back for five years) are typically not covered, but a few plans offer $25,000 in coverage. Each state will have different rules, so it is important to check all your options.

Most states require membership in Communicating for America, a national non-profit. AM Best gives a Financial Strength Rating (FSR) of A- to the IHC Group and Standard Security Life.

Best for Kids : Everest Reinsurance Company

Everest Reinsurance Company

Everest Reinsurance Company

Why We Chose It: Many insurers do not offer stand-alone STM healthcare insurance for children. We chose Everest for its overall lowest-cost plans for wide-ranging coverage for kids aged 2 to 18 years. Plus, Everest has an excellent track record and an A+ rating from AM Best.

What We Like
  • Low deductible

  • 20% coinsurance 

  • $50 co-pay for both primary care and specialists

  • Mental health services

What We Don't Like
  • No prescription coverage

  • No online registration; must call or email

  • 5-day waiting period, 30 days for cancer

Sometimes situations arise (a move to another state, divorce, etc.) where your child loses coverage or experiences a gap in healthcare insurance. Many families do not qualify while some kids are eligible for low-cost health insurance, based on family income, through CHIP, the Federal/State sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Program. 

Everest is a good option if you want temporary coverage (up to 3 months) for your child that includes many services at a price that will not bankrupt you with high deductibles. 

Everest offers plans with a $2500 deductible and $50 copays for doctor visits (the doctor can be out-of-network). The plans we researched ranged in price from about $57 to $172 dollars per month. The coinsurance is 20%, and the out-of-pocket limit is $7,500.  There’s no application fee, but there is a waiting period of 5 days.

Hospital services will cost you a $500 additional deductible per visit for the use of the ER. Additional deductible applies, then the plan deductible applies. However, the additional deductible is waived if the child is admitted to the hospital. 

Inpatient mental health services are covered at $100 per day, for a maximum of 31 days, and outpatient at $50 per day, for a maximum of 10 visits. This varies by state, as some states cover mental health, and some states exclude it.

Best for Longest Policy Options : United Healthcare/Golden Rule Insurance

United Healthcare

United Healthcare

Why We Chose It: As the only provider that offers 36-month coverage (where allowable by state law), UnitedHealthcare won top choice for the longest policy options.

What We Like
  • Up to three-year policy available

  • $5,000 prescription coverage available

  • Preventative care wellness checks covered

  • Some pre-existing conditions may be covered after 12 months

What We Don't Like
  • Only available in 19 states

  • Issue ages 19 to 65

  • Reduced out-of-network coverage that can vary

  • May be required to join FACT

UnitedHealthcare underwrites its policies through Golden Rule Insurance Company, a part of UnitedHealthcare since 2003. The company has been selling short-term health insurance for over 30 years, and policies are available in 19 states. UnitedHealthcare has a Moody’s insurer financial strength rating of A1.

Quotes and comparisons are easily available on the UnitedHealthcare website. In some states, you must join a consumer organization, the Federation of American Consumers and Travelers (FACT), for an additional $4 per month charge. Policies vary in length from one month to 12 months, with options to renew up to 36 months on the TriTerm Medical plan.

Some STM plans cover 100% of medical costs once you meet the deductible (0% coinsurance) or there are options where you pay 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50% coinsurance until you reach the annual maximum. You can also add prescription coverage.

Maximum benefits range from $1 to $2 million and are subject to exclusions (think maternity care, emergency services, preventative care, hospitalization, and pre-existing conditions). Coverage begins after you meet the deductible with options of $2,500, $5,000, $7,500, $10,000, or $12,500.

Depending on the plan, waiting periods vary, with a six-month waiting period for preventive care benefits, and 12 months for eligible pre-existing conditions.

Best for Fixed Indemnity Insurance : United Healthcare/Golden Rule Insurance

United Healthcare

United Healthcare

Why we chose It: United Healthcare, the largest healthcare provider in the United States with approximately 50 million enrollees, offers the most generous coverage amounts of all the fixed indemnity plans we looked at.

What We Like
  • No deductibles

  • Can register online

  • Website has tools to track claims and see benefits

  • Option to add dental coverage

What We Don't Like
  • May be subject to medical underwriting

  • Five-day waiting period for illness coverage

  • Lots of exclusions/fine print to read

Fixed-payment or fixed-indemnity coverage pays you or your provider a predetermined amount for each day (or another time period) you are hospitalized or receive a medical service. It can be purchased in addition to any other insurance, often as a back-up in case your primary insurance does not cover all expenses. While these plans may accept people with pre-existing conditions, they also have a set limit on how much they’ll pay for each medical situation.

The United Healthcare indemnity plans we researched cost from $52 to $139 dollars per month, but costs will vary based on your age and health history. Typical coverage includes $1000 to $5000 per day for inpatient hospital confinement, $2000 per day for ICU care, $100 per visit for inpatient physician visits, up to $10,000 per day for surgical costs, $100 per day toward preventive costs, and a pharmacy discount card. United Healthcare is available in 25 states plus the District of Columbia and has an AM Best rating of A+. Policies can be purchased online or you can call United Healthcare with questions.

Important

Indemnity insurance plans are very detailed and very specific about what procedures/services are covered or not covered. For example, the United Healthcare contract is 16 pages long.

Final Verdict

Because short-term health insurance policies vary so widely by state and are not offered in 11 states, it is important to narrow down exactly what options you have to choose from. Read the fine print of what policies exclude is key, and ask the agent who represents the insurance company lots of questions before you commit. 


In our review, we saw two insurers that we would recommend for the majority of consumers: The best overall is Everest Reinsurance Company, The IHC Group/National General is best for customized coverage. Between these two carriers, you have a very good chance of finding the coverage you need at a reasonable price.

Compare Providers

Best Short Term Health Insurance Why we picked it Notable Feature
Everest Reinsurance Company Best Overall Can see providers in any network.
Benefits include physical therapy, wellness, home health care, mental health, and substance abuse
The IHC Group/National General Best for Customized Coverage Customizable plans in all price ranges.
Can see your own doctor or out-of-network.
Everest Reinsurance Company Best Short-Term Health Insurance for Kids  $50 co-pay for both primary care and specialists. 
Mental health services.
United Healthcare/Golden Rule Insurance Best for Longest Policy Options Up to three-year policy available. Some pre-existing conditions may be covered after 12 months.
United Healthcare/Golden Rule Insurance Best Short Term Indemnity Insurance No deductibles
Website has tools to track claims.
Best Value Pivot Health Best Value Can see providers in any network.
24/7 access to telemedicine.

FAQs

What Is Short-Term Health Insurance?

STM is medical coverage you purchase from an insurance company that covers illness and injury for a specific amount of time, from one month to three years, depending upon the regulations of the state you live in. STM is often purchased as a safety net for someone who is temporarily not covered by health insurance. If you are considering STM, make sure you understand exactly what you're buying and what is covered. 


Who Qualifies For Short-Term Health Insurance?

Anyone can apply for short-term health insurance. However, the companies who offer it may refuse to insure you or only offer limited coverage because they use medical underwriting to determine if you have pre-existing conditions that would be expensive to cover. 

Should You Get Short-Term Health Insurance?

If you are going to be without coverage for a limited time, short-term health insurance may be a good option for you if you do not have pre-existing conditions, but you need to research coverage carefully. 

How Much Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cost?

Price per month will vary, based on where you live, your age, gender, and other factors. Short-term health insurance is available for as low as $45 per month, and can run well over $200 per month.

What Does Short-Term Health Insurance Exclude?

Short-term health insurance does not cover most ACA requirements, for example, pregnancy and wellness visits, and usually don't cover pre-existing conditions. 

How Does Short-Term Health Insurance Compare To COBRA Coverage?

Short-term health insurance is generally less expensive than buying COBRA coverage, but it will not cover as many medical needs. COBRA coverage also is federally mandated to last for up to 18 months, while length of short-term health insurance plans vary by state, from 3 months to 36 months. 

How We Chose the Best Short Term Health Insurance

We looked at over 14 short-term health insurance providers, evaluating each one on a combination of industry ratings such as AM Best, how many states it provides coverage in, website ease of use, and price comparisons. In each category, we shopped for policies using the same age and gender. 

Because short-term health insurance pricing and length of term (30 days to 3 years) depends upon each state’s regulations, it is challenging to compare plans “apples to apples” across the entire United States when researching prices. So, we selected the companies that have proven track records for their industry and are available in the largest number of states possible.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Congressional Budget Office. Federal Subsidies for Health Insurance Coverage for People Under Age 65: 2018 to 2028.

  2. AM Best. Everest Reinsurance Company. Updated May 29, 2020.

  3. AM Best. Companion Life Insurance Company. Updated December 9, 2020.

  4. AM Best. AM Best affirms credit ratings of Independence Holding Company and its subsidiaries. Updated December 16, 2020.

  5. Moodys. Moody’s affirms UnitedHealth Group’s ratings after acquisition announcement; outlook stable. Updated January 7, 2021.

  6. AM Best. AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of UnitedHealth Group and Most Subsidiaries; Upgrades Credit Ratings of Certain Subsidiaries. Updated December 18, 2020.