Everest Flex Term Health Insurance stands out as the premier choice for short-term health coverage, particularly due to its superior affordability and minimal out-of-pocket expenses when compared to competitors in our comprehensive analysis.

Short-term health insurance serves as an economical and temporary solution to bridge gaps in coverage, such as those resulting from job loss. While short-term plans boast low premiums, it’s important to note that they may not provide the extensive coverage offered by traditional health insurance policies.

The Best Short-Term Health Insurance Companies

Here are Forbes Advisor’s picks for the best short-term health insurance companies of 2024:

  • UnitedHealthcare, Copay Select Max – Best for Prescription Drug Benefits
  • Pivot Health, Epic Base – Best for 0% Coinsurance Option
  • Everest, Flex Term Health Insurance – Best for Low Out-of-Pocket Costs
  • UnitedHealthcare, Hospital & Surgical – Best for Provider Network
  • UnitedHealthcare, TriTerm Value – Best for Coverage Maximum
  • Pivot Health, Pivot Health Choice – Best for Low Deductible Option
  • Pivot Health, Pivot Health – Economy – Best for Low Premiums

What Is Short-Term Health Insurance?

Short-term health insurance offers limited coverage for up to 12 months in most states, with the chance to extend the plan for another two years. Some states don’t allow short-term plans or restrict the length of coverage.

The Biden administration announced in July 2023 that it plans to restrict short-term health insurance to only three months with the option to expand coverage for a fourth month.

Short-term health insurance plans aren’t regulated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so they can deny policies to people based on pre-existing conditions and they don’t have to cover the minimum “essential health benefits” mandated by the law. ACA benefits that are standard in regular and best health insurance include inpatient and outpatient care, mental health services, prescription drug coverage and maternity care. Since short-term plans don’t have to offer this coverage you may have trouble finding a short-term health plan that does.

Short-term health insurance plans also generally have caps on how much the insurer will pay for certain services or in total.

What Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cover?

Short-term health insurance plans don’t have to follow ACA rules, which means there can be a significant difference between what one short-term plan may cover compared to another short-term plan.

Short-term health insurance plans may cover:

  • Preventive care
  • Urgent care
  • Emergency care
  • Doctor visits

While standard health insurance covers maternity maternity, mental health and substance use care, short-term plans often exclude those coverages.

Another issue is prescription drug benefits. These benefits are standard in a regular health insurance plan, but short-term health insurance companies can decide whether to cover prescription drugs. Short-term plans that don’t offer prescription drug benefits may provide a discount card. In those cases, the insurer doesn’t help pay for medications, but you might be able to get a lower drug price than if you didn’t have the discount card.

You’ll want to check the short-term health policy details to understand what’s covered and the coverage maximums, restrictions and exclusions.

Pros And Cons of Short-Term Health Insurance

Advocates trumpet short-term health insurance as an affordable option, but detractors call the plans junk health insurance because they lack many coverages found in regular health insurance. There are also potentially high costs if you need care. Understand the pros and cons before buying short-term insurance.


  • Low cost.
  • You can apply for a short-term plan at any time and don’t have to wait for open enrollment.
  • If approved, you can get coverage quickly, as soon as the next day.
  • You may have more flexibility to decide on your out-of-pocket costs compared to a standard health insurance plan.


  • Typically doesn’t include coverage that is in standard health insurance plans.
  • Plans come with coverage caps.
  • Generally doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.
  • You can be denied a policy.
  • You can have a short-term health plan only for a limited time.

Who Can Benefit From Short-term Health Insurance?

A short-term health insurance plan might make sense if:

  • You can’t find affordable health insurance anywhere else.
  • You will soon have health insurance, such as starting a new job, but want an emergency stopgap until then.
  • You were recently laid off and can’t afford COBRA insurance. COBRA lets you extend your previous group health insurance but without financial help from your former employer, leading to expensive coverage.
  • You don’t expect to have many, if any, health care needs in the coming months, including no prescriptions or doctor visits, such as physicals, tests and mental health care.
  • You aged out of your parent’s health plan, want inexpensive coverage and don’t qualify or can’t afford catastrophic health insurance through the ACA marketplace. Catastrophic health insurance, available only to people under age 30 or facing severe financial issues, has low costs and large, initial out-of-pocket costs, similar to short-term plans. One major difference is that catastrophic plans offer comprehensive coverage, just like ACA plans.

How Much Does Short-Term Health Insurance Cost?

The average cost for short-term health insurance is $171 a month, according to Forbes Advisor’s analysis of eight policies.

Our analysis found costs as low as about $100 a month for barebones coverage to over $200 a month for coverage with prescription drug coverage. Short-term health insurers may promote coverage for under $100 a month, but you want to carefully read the print to understand what is and isn’t covered by cheaper short-term plans.

By Aban

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