I notice short-term policies are for sale outside of the Marketplace and they are cheaper than many other policies. What is a short-term policy?

As the name implies, a short-term health insurance policy offers coverage for a period of less than 12 months.  Many offer coverage for just 3 to 6 months.  Beyond that term, coverage generally can only be continued if the insurance company agrees.  This is sometimes called a non-guaranteed-renewable policy.  If you’ve made claims since you bought the short-term policy, the insurer can, and likely will refuse to continue coverage once the policy term ends.

In addition, short-term policies do not offer other protections found in Marketplace plans.  For example, short-term policies can exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions.  Short-term policies also typically do not cover essential health benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, or maternity care.

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