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Questions to Ask When Deciding on Short-Term Medical Plans

Short-term medical plans provide needed coverage when you have a lapse in work insurance or when a major medical policy term ends. But there are a few questions to ask when deciding on short-term medical plans.

Anticipating possible changes in your health and work situation can also be helpful as you evaluate short-term medical plans. While it isn’t always easy to know what life changes are coming your way, there are a few common situations that do arise.

Before deciding on a healthcare plan, you may want to consider what you’ll do if your primary care physician is not part of the network, if you have preexisting medical conditions, or if you need to extend your temporary coverage for more than a few months. All of these may influence your choice of policy.

Will My Doctor Accept My New Plan?

You’ve invested a lot of time and energy finding a doctor who’s a good fit so many people are concerned that short-term medical plans won’t be accepted by their primary care physicians. Let’s face it, no one wants to spend time finding a new doctor, going through tons of paperwork, or giving their health histories again and again—especially for temporary coverage.

Some plans will limit your office visits to physicians or clinics in specific networks, but many others don’t carry such restrictions. You can look up your preferred doctor to see if they’re in the network before you apply.

If you’re unsure, the easiest approach might be to call your doctor’s office and inquire if they’re in-network for any short-term medical plans you’re considering. This is always a good idea as office staff may be aware of changes in their network that may not be reflected on the insurance company’s website.

Being prepared with this knowledge before you select a short-term plan will help you avoid unpleasant surprises or higher copayments in the future. Understanding whether your physician is part of your network can save you a lot of trouble and help you decide how you’ll address ongoing treatment during the term of your plan.

What If I’m Declined Coverage?

Standard major medical insurance is different from a temporary health plan and can affect whether you’ll be covered. It’s possible you could be declined coverage based on your health history or a medical issue that’s currently being treated.

If you have a preexisting medical condition such as pregnancy, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke, finding short-term coverage could be a struggle. If you have one of these conditions or are concerned that some other health issue in the past won’t be covered, you may want to consider alternatives before you are rejected.

There’s another option that may be offered in your area. A “guarantee issue plan” provides coverage regardless of your health status or risk and why short-term plans are different than those offered through your work.

Most employer-sponsored plans accept just about everyone who signs up because the underwriting standards are less restrictive. Insurance companies can spread out the costs because of the greater pool of participants.

If you anticipate being declined for individual short-term coverage due to a preexisting condition, consider a guaranteed-issue health insurance policy.

What If I Need to Extend My Coverage?

Many people consider short-term medical plans because they’re uncertain about their life situation due to changing circumstances such as relocating for a job, retirement, or starting a new career. It’s understandable why you may be unsure how long you’ll need to extend your coverage.

Typically, most plans require that you reapply at the end of your term. However, you should note that many short-term medical plans will limit you to two or three consecutive terms.

You may have to find a new plan if your current coverage carries such restrictions. You should consider this possibility before deciding on a plan as healthcare situations and employment circumstances can change rapidly.

You may find yourself going through this process a second time. If you’re uncertain regarding the duration of healthcare coverage you may need, it might be beneficial to consider a second option when reviewing short-term plans.

Just as with selecting a major medical policy, evaluating your future needs and life situations can make the process easier. Understanding your own health conditions and healthcare requirements are crucial before considering any short-term medical plans.

While no one has a crystal ball, preparing for as many uncertainties as you can will likely save you time as well as money.

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