Tennessee follows federal guidelines for purchasing short-term health insurance (also called temporary health insurance), which means it has no state-specific rules. You’re able to buy a short-term health plan for as little as 30 days and up to 364 days, and you can consecutively reapply for new policies for a maximum of 36 months total.
When you find yourself with a gap in health coverage and you need to fill it quickly and affordably, short-term plans can be a good option. Read on to learn more about what you should consider as a Tennessean so you make the choice that’s right for your health and your budget.
What You Should Know
In Tennessee, you can buy a temporary health plan for at little as 30 days up to 364 days and get new policies for up to 36 months in total.
Short-term health insurance can be a good option for those in relatively good health who need to bridge a gap in coverage until permanent insurance is available.
Enrolling is easy and quick to do online and you can apply at any time of the year.
How to Determine if Short-Term Health Insurance is Right for You
Short-term insurance can be an economical option if private health insurance is too expensive and your income doesn’t qualify you for a subsidy, which will help you pay for your monthly premiums.
The main reason short-term policies are more affordable is that they don’t cover longer-term care for chronic conditions and situations like pregnancy and mental health disorders. For that reason, it’s important to know that you won’t qualify for temporary coverage if you have a preexisting condition. Short-term policies are best for people who are relatively healthy.
Once you’ve considered your options and chosen a plan, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to enroll online. Tennesseans can choose from 69 plans, so it’s important to compare carefully the benefits and costs. After you’ve made your decision and answered a few health questions, you’ll know immediately whether you’ve been accepted.
A Word of Advice
Temporary health insurance works best for people who are relatively healthy and just need coverage for a limited time.
As mentioned above, preexisting conditions disqualify anyone who applies, and you would be responsible for paying any medical claims for an illness or condition that was diagnosed before you bought your temporary policy. If you don’t have a history of health issues and you don’t plan to keep a short-term health plan for a long period, this type of policy can be a good option right now.
Buying short-term health insurance in Tennessee can make a lot of sense if you find yourself in one of these situations:
- You lost your job and the employer health coverage that came with it.
- You can’t afford COBRA insurance.
- You’re turning 26 and aging off your parent’s health insurance.
- You’re getting divorced and losing your spouse’s health coverage.
- You missed the federal Marketplace Open Enrollment Period.
- You don’t qualify for a subsidy on the Marketplace based on your income.
- You’re starting your own business and need to buy insurance until you find a permanent solution.
- You’re taking early retirement and will no longer have access to employer health coverage.
- You need to enroll your children in their own health plan.
- You’re going to college and required to have coverage while in school.
- You got a new job and are waiting for your benefits to start.
When Short-Term Health Insurance Is Not the Right Option for You
As mentioned above, temporary health plans aren’t a good choice if you have a preexisiting condition, are managing a chronic condition(s), and/or have been told by a doctor to get further testing for a possible problem.
Although the cost of a policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace can seem steep, if you need more medical care, it’s likely to be your best option. If, for example, you have high blood pressure and depression, you’d need to get medical care throughout the year in addition to any visits for preventive care. Preventive care is covered completely by all Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, and your other providers could continue monitoring your hypertension and depression without your having to worry about rate increases or having claims denied by your insurance company.
A Word of Advice
You can buy short-term health insurance any time of the year, but if you want to buy coverage through the federal Marketplace, you’ll need to enroll during the annual Open Enrollment Period.
Keep in mind that you can only enroll in the Marketplace during the annual Open Enrollment Period unless you have a special situation that qualifies you for an alternate enrollment period. So it pays to be sure to sign up for a health insurance plan during the Open Enrollment Period to get the coverage that’s right for you.
How Much Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cost in Tennessee?
Short-term medical coverage is some of the most budget-friendly insurance available. For example, a 28-year-old woman living in Nashville can pay a monthly premium between $53 and $280, depending on the coverage she selected.1 The cost boils down to benefits: The more you pay, the greater your benefits.
It’s important to understand all the different costs related to health insurance:
Premium: This is the monthly cost of your short-term policy. Your premium can be paid monthly or you can prepay the entire amount if you choose.
Deductible: This is the total amount you’re responsible for out-of-pocket before the insurance company begins to pay for some portion of covered medical claims. This means you have to pay most, if not all, of your medical bills until the health plan deductible amount is met.
Copayment (“copay”): Some temporary health plans have copay options for doctor’s office visits and, on some plans, prescription drugs. This is a flat, preset amount you pay for services. Note that other services, like lab work and additional testing, are separate charges and are not covered under the copay.
Coinsurance: Once you’ve met your deductible, you’re typically still responsible for a portion of your medical bills. The insurance company pays the majority of the expenses, but you’re required to pay a percentage. Depending on the health plan you select, your coinsurance could range from nothing up to 30%.
Out-of-Pocket Maximum: Your contract with the insurance company has a set out-of-pocket maximum limit. Once you reach that amount, the company pays 100% of eligible expenses. In Tennessee, the total amount could be a combination of your deductible and coinsurance or your coinsurance alone. Be sure to review the exclusions and limitations in the policy brochure to understand what you’re responsible for.
How Do I Buy a Short-Term Medical Plan in Tennessee?
Signing up for a short-term health insurance plan is simple once you decide on the plan you want. Here’s how to compare policies to choose the one that’s right for you
- Get a quote for your ZIP code to learn about your options for the monthly premium.
- Compare the deductible options.
- Decide if you want a plan with a copay for doctor’s office visits and/or prescription drugs.
- Choose your level of coinsurance.
- Select between an all-access plan or a PPO network plan.
- Read the exclusions and limitations to learn what is and is not covered.
Remember that there is no Open Enrollment Period for enrolling in short-term health insurance; you can apply any time of the year.
You can enroll online at a private marketplace like Pivot Health, work directly with a health insurance company or get the help of a licensed agent.
Next Steps for Getting Temporary Health Insurance in Tennessee
When life throws you a curveball and you find yourself without health coverage, short-term health insurance can be a good option to help you get insurance.
Here are the most important things to remember as you move ahead:
- Decide what is most important to your coverage, whether that’s cost, amount of coverage, access to doctors you already see or other factors.
- Compare the differences between plans.
- Read all exclusions and limitations before you finalize your choice.
Knowing you have some financial protection should the unexpected arise will give you more confidence until you’re covered by permanent insurance once again.