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Understanding Short-Term Health Insurance

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This page provides information to Canadians about short term health insurance including facts and benefits.

As the name implies, short term health insurance plans are temporary and provide coverage for up to one year. They are devised to cover individuals who are unemployed and between jobs or on strike, newly hired employees and those waiting for a group health insurance plan to come into effect, early retirees, individuals who have lost their dependent status or have been discharged from the military, and college graduates looking to enter the work force.

Individuals can easily obtain online quotes regarding short term health insurance. Online applications are usually short, simple, quickly processed, and payments can be made monthly, or as a one-lump sum which often results in a lower overall premium.

Facts and Benefits of Short Term Health Insurance Plans

  • Short Term Health InsuranceShort-term plans typically provide coverage within 24 hours.
  • Short-term plans typically cover an individual from 1 to 6 months, but some plans provide coverage for up to 12 months.
  • The application process for obtaining a short term health insurance plan is significantly shorter than the application process for long-term plans.
  • Short-term plans are designed to protect individuals from the costs associated with accidental injuries, illnesses and unforeseen medical emergencies; they are not meant to provide routine or preventative coverage.
  • Short-term plans do not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, that is, a medical condition that has been diagnosed or treated in the past 3 to 5 years.
  • Short-term plans act like “indemnity” plans, allowing individuals to see doctors or specialists of their choice. Non-emergency hospital stays usually require a pre-certification from the insurance carrier.
  • Some short-term plans cover surgery, hospital care, diagnostic procedures, prescription drugs, and other medical services.
  • Short-term plans protect individuals from gaps in health insurance coverage.
  • Short-term plans can only be renewed up to a certain number of times, and although individuals can reapply for renewal, they are not guaranteed to qualify.
  • Short-term plans do not provide coverage for vision or dental coverage.
  • Short-term plans do not cover medical services related to pregnancy or delivery.
  • Individuals that develop a serious medical condition after the short-term plan becomes active may not be eligible for another short-term plan when their current one expires.
  • Short-term plans do not typically provide coverage to individuals 65 years old and older.
  • Individuals who have previously been denied health insurance may not qualify for coverage under a short-term plan.
  • Many short-term plans have acceptance guidelines that must be met in order to qualify for coverage, such as the particular margins set regarding height and weight.

Individuals who are already covered under a health insurance plan should not purchase a short-term plan as coverage under more than one plan does not provide an individual with additional coverage. In such cases, insurance carriers determine which of the two plans should pay in the event of a claim.