If you’re uninsured in Arkansas, consider short-term health insurance among your options. Available for as little as a month, short-term plans work well for brief coverage gaps, such as when you’re between jobs or waiting for new benefits to begin.
What is Short-Term Health Insurance
Health insurance that you purchase for a limited time is commonly called short-term health insurance. It’s temporary coverage designed to help you with unexpected medical costs until you secure long-term coverage. Plan benefits typically include doctor office visits, urgent care, emergency services, hospitalization, and surgery.
Each state can set its own limits for short-term policies and renewals. But Arkansas does not have any, which means federal limits apply.1 Federal regulations allow short-term policies up to 364 days, with renewals up to 36 months.
Short-term medical insurance is not subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which means it differs from individual major medical insurance (i.e., ACA plans) in some important ways. Those differences mean short-term plans work well for some people and ACA plans work better for others.
What You Need to Know
Short-term health plans include benefits that help pay for unforeseen medical bills.
Arkansas short-term policies last 30 to 364 days, with renewals or extensions up to 36 months.
You can apply for short-term health insurance year-round and begin coverage as soon as the next day.
Is Short-Term Health Insurance Right for Me?
A short-term plan could be a good fit for you based on the following:
Short-term insurance typically costs less than unsubsidized ACA plans. If you don’t qualify for an ACA subsidy and can’t otherwise afford ACA coverage, a short-term plan may be an economical solution.
Short-term health insurance is always available. It’s a way to secure benefits if you need health insurance outside of ACA open enrollment and don’t qualify for a special enrollment period.
Due to its temporary nature, short-term health insurance doesn’t include all of the ACA essential health benefits. These plans work best if you’re healthy and simply need coverage for injuries and illnesses you don’t see coming.
This coverage tends to work well for transitional periods such as when you:
- Are between job-based health insurance plans.
- Start a new job with a benefits waiting period.
- Turn 26 and age off your parent’s health plan.
- Move to a new ZIP code and lose coverage.
- Lose coverage due to divorce.
Ready for next steps? Explore plans.
A Word of Advice
If you’re living with a chronic health condition or are pregnant, short-term health insurance won’t meet your needs. But if you are generally healthy and need health insurance for “just in case” situations, it can be a good coverage option.
Why Wouldn’t Short-Term Health Insurance Be Right for Me?
Short-term insurance isn’t right for everyone. You may decide to enroll in an ACA plan instead for the following reasons:
If you qualify for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, an ACA plan offers the broadest benefits for the lowest cost. Visit Arkansas’ Health Insurance Marketplace to check your subsidy eligibility.
Short-term plans are not required to include all of the essential health benefits. You’ll want to enroll in an ACA plan if you need access to benefits across the healthcare spectrum.
Not everyone qualifies for short-term health insurance. Unlike ACA plans, short-term plans are not guaranteed issue regardless of age and health status.
Unlike ACA plans, short-term plans typically won’t cover preexisting conditions such as autoimmune diseases or diabetes. If you have a preexisting condition, it may be excluded from your short-term policy.
How Much Do Short-Term Plans Typically Cost in Arkansas?
Your short-term health insurance premium — the amount you pay for coverage — will be determined by your age, sex, ZIP code, and tobacco use.
Your premium isn’t the only figure that should be on your radar. Also look at a plan’s cost-sharing requirements, such as:
- Plan deductible — What you pay out of pocket before your benefits take effect.
- Copayment — A fixed amount you pay for covered services, often at the point of service (e.g., doctor’s office, urgent care).
- Coinsurance — The percentage you pay for covered medical expenses once you meet your deductible.
You’ll find a lower monthly premium means higher cost-sharing and vice versa. Also make note of policy and out-of-pocket maximums — the cap on what your policy pays and what you pay for covered healthcare, respectively.
To give you a sense of what short-term plans cost in Arkansas, see the below example for a 35-year-old female in Little Rock (72204). She is single, has no dependents, doesn’t use tobacco, and needs coverage for 364 days.
Source: Pivot Health Cost Calculator
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A Word of Advice
Think not just about your monthly premium, but about the amount of a plan’s deductible, copay, and coinsurance when considering overall cost.
How to Buy Short-Term Health Insurance Plans
You can buy short-term plans online at PivotHealth.com and through licensed health insurance agents or brokers.
Short-term health insurance isn’t available on Arkansas’ Health Insurance Marketplace.
What if I Need Extra Coverage?
Once you find a health insurance plan you can afford, you may be concerned about meeting your deductible and other out-of-pocket costs when you need to use it. Supplemental health insurance can help.
A supplemental policy pays lump-sum benefits when you have an accident or are diagnosed with a covered critical illness. You can choose to use these benefits for costs such as:
- Your health insurance deductible and coinsurance.
- Medical bills not covered by your primary health insurance.
- Living expenses such as rent or mortgage, childcare and transportation.
The following sample rates are for a 35-year-old female living in Little Rock (72204).
|Premium||Critical Illness Benefit||Accident Medical Expense Benefit||Accidental Death & Dismemberment Benefit||Hospital Benefit (Per day up to 10 days)|
How Do I Choose a Short-Term Plan?
Once you decide that short-term health insurance is right for you, you’ll want to gather a few personalized quotes. Then, it’s time to narrow your options. Look at premium and cost-sharing amounts, plan benefits and exclusions, network requirements (if any), and non-insurance benefits such as vision or prescription drug discount programs. Contact the insurer if you have questions or need additional information that will help you decide.
There are dozens of Arkansas plans available. Check out your options.