Oklahoma follows federal guidelines for short-term health insurance, which means there are no state-specific restrictions.1 This gives you the flexibility to build a health plan that fits your needs.
Short-term health insurance plans are temporary insurance meant to cover you for some medical expenses when you don’t have permanent insurance. A single policy can cover you for a minimum of 30 days and, in Oklahoma, up to a maximum of 364 days. But you can reapply for up to 36 months, giving you three years of consecutive coverage if you need it.
What You Need to Know
In Oklahoma, you can buy short-term coverage for as little as 30 days and renew policies for a total of 36 months of coverage.
The state has dozens of short-term options to choose from, but an Obamacare plan may make more sense if you need a lot of medical care.
If you buy a temporary medical insurance policy and change your mind, you have a 10-day “free look” period in which you can get a total refund.
Short-term medical insurance also includes non-insurance benefits meant to help you stay healthy while you’re insured, such as discounts on eyeglasses and eye exams. Every plan also includes low-cost or no-cost telemedicine benefits (meaning virtual or online visits with care providers). Other benefits are available based on the type of plan you select.
How Do I Know if Short-Term Health Insurance is Right for Me?
Temporary health insurance makes the most sense for Oklahomans who are between health plans and need coverage to bridge that gap. Here are some situations where short-term insurance might make sense:
- You lost your job and can’t afford COBRA insurance.
- You’re turning 26 and aging off your parent’s health plan.
- You’re a college student studying in a different state and are required to have health coverage.
- You’re retiring but don’t yet qualify for Medicare.
- You’re getting divorced and losing access to the insurance you had through your spouse.
- You don’t qualify for a subsidy on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace and need a budget-friendly option.
- You missed signing up for an Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) plan during the Open Enrollment Period and you don’t qualify to enroll during the Special Enrollment Period.
When you’re considering which short-term medical plan is right for you, here are some important factors to take into account:
- Eligibility: Insurance companies can ask medical questions in order to determine whether you qualify for coverage. In Oklahoma, you’re required to answer five questions about yourself. To get a short-term health policy you’ll need to be relatively healthy to qualify; you won’t qualify if you have a preexisting condition or have been told by a doctor that you need further tests for a possible medical issue. Once approved, your coverage can start as soon as the next day.
- Affordability: With benefits that focus on covering you in the event of an accident or an unexpected illness, you won’t have to pay for long-term care like pregnancy or mental health treatment. By paying only for doctor’s visits and any hospital expenses, insurance companies can keep the cost of your monthly premium low.
- Length of enrollment: As mentioned above, Oklahoma allows you to enroll for up to 364 days with the option to reapply and renew a policy for up to 36 months in total. If you aren’t sure how long you’ll need coverage, you can sign up for the longest period, pay month-to-month and cancel at any time. There’s no penalty for canceling a policy early.
A Word of Advice
When considering short-term plans, weigh eligibility, affordability and length of enrollment.
When Would Short-Term Health Insurance Not be Right for Me?
As mentioned above, anyone with a preexisting condition or who’s been told by their doctor to seek additional tests for a possible disease or illness won’t be covered by a short-term policy.
The insurance certificate will clearly state that it “prevents coverage from applying to medical conditions that existed prior to the plan effective date.” This includes chronic conditions and any problem that comes up because of a chronic condition. If, for example, you have type 2 diabetes and are diagnosed with sleep apnea while covered by a short-term medical plan, any testing and treatment for your apnea probably won’t be covered because sleep apnea can be caused by type 2 diabetes.
If you do have a preexisting condition and need ongoing care, consider buying an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan (Obamacare). While the monthly premiums are more expensive, these plans provide much more extensive coverage for doctor’s visits, hospital stays, preventive care, and medication. By law, ACA plans must also include 10 essential health benefits, including preventive and wellness care.2 If you see multiple care providers and require regular treatment and/or medication, an ACA plan is likely to save you money in the long run and, depending on your income, you could qualify for help paying your monthly premium.
A Word of Advice
Short-term health plans may not make sense if you have a preexisting condition or could have a disease or illness not covered by a short-term policy.
How Much Do Short-Term Health Plans Cost in Oklahoma?
How much you’ll pay depends on your age, health status and other factors. For example, a 35-year-old woman living in Oklahoma City can pay anywhere from $74 in premiums each month up to $448 a month, depending on the plan she chooses and the length of coverage.3
As an Oklahoman, you have lots of options; there are currently 79 plans available in the state, with deductibles ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. Here are some key terms to know when looking at short-term health insurance policies; all of these relate to costs:
Premium: The monthly cost of a health insurance plan is the premium. Your monthly premium will be determined by seven factors: age, gender, ZIP code, deductible, coinsurance, copayment, and total coverage maximum.
Deductible: The deductible is the amount you are responsible for paying out-of-pocket before the insurance company starts to pay for covered medical expenses. A high-deductible health plan will have a lower monthly premium and a plan with a low deductible will have higher premiums.
Coinsurance: Once you’ve met your deductible, you’re still responsible for paying a percentage of your medical expenses until you reach your out-of-pocket maximum (more on that below). In Oklahoma, you have the option to select a plan with zero coinsurance up to 30%. The insurance company pays the majority of covered costs and you pick up the rest.
Copayment: Some plans offer a copayment (copay) option, a benefit that requires you to pay a set amount for doctor’s office visits or prescription drugs. Note that copayments apply to specific, covered services and don’t cover additional services like lab work that might take place during a visit.
Out-of-Pocket Maximum: This is the total amount you’re responsible for before your insurance company begins to pay 100%. Plans differ, so make sure you understand what’s considered the “maximum.” For example, the out-of-pocket maximum for some short-term plans is a combination of the deductible and coinsurance, whereas other plans consider the deductible alone the only amount you need to meet before you hit the maximum.
Total Coverage Maximum: There are financial limits as to what your insurance company is responsible for. In Oklahoma, your total coverage maximum can range from $100,000 up to $1 million, depending on the plan you choose. If you have a policy for $100,000 and your medical bills surpass that amount, you’re responsible for all additional charges that exceed $100,000.
How Do I Buy Short-Term Health Insurance in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma short-term insurance plans can be purchased online, through an insurance company or through a health insurance agent by phone. Companies that advertise short-term health insurance in Oklahoma include:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma
- Companion Life Insurance Company
- Everest Reinsurance Company
- Independent American Insurance Company
- National General Accident & Health Insurance Company
Benefits and pricing vary a lot between companies, so it’s essential to carefully compare plan benefits and costs before you commit to a policy.
Can I Get Extra Insurance Coverage in Oklahoma?
If you can’t afford an Obamacare plan and are concerned that a short-term plan won’t meet all your medical needs, there is supplemental insurance, which pays a flat cash benefit of $2,500 or $5,000, which can cover the cost of your deductible. The plans pay out for accidents and unexpected diagnoses. If you’re healthy but don’t have the savings to cover large medical bills, supplemental plans can fill that gap.
Oklahoma allows you to add an accident and critical illness policy to your short-term medical coverage. Supplemental plans start at $29.95 per month for an individual and can go up to $99.95 for families. They also include a daily hospital benefit for up to 10 days and accidental death benefits. In addition to insurance coverage, supplemental plans offer non-insurance discount benefits like those mentioned above.
If you’re ready to research short-term health insurance in Oklahoma to fill a gap in coverage, here’s what to remember:
- Compare several plans so you know what your options are and what benefits each policy will cover.
- Don’t just buy on price; make sure the benefits meet your needs.
- Review the exclusions and limitations of any policy you’re considering.
- Consider adding supplemental insurance to fill any gaps in coverage.
- Enroll for the longest period possible to ensure coverage. You can cancel any time without penalty; Oklahoma also has a“free look” period that allows you 10 days to change your mind after enrolling with a full refund.
It’s never a good idea to go uninsured. Short-term medical plans can provide an economical solution to get you covered when you need protection.