August 22, 2014 by Tony Novak
I continue to see indications that consumers are confused about the best way to cover short term gaps in their medical insurance. A significant number seem to be drawn to limited indemnity plans that are not the best choice in most cases. High quality short term major medical insurance is cheap, fast, simple and available to the majority of Americans. The trouble, as I see it, is that too many people are drawn to inappropriate insurance choices by aggressive Internet advertising.
These alternate types of insurance tend to have lower coverage limits and are often not issued immediately and to give automatic proof of coverage and downloadable ID cards. It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with alternate types of coverage, but rather that this is not the most suitable approach in the majority of short term need situations like this.
The primary indications of consumer misunderstandings come through emails and questions posted online. Increasingly, these messages include an indication that consumers have less than adequate knowledge of the insurance product they are considering and that they are at risk of making a poor decision based on this lack of information. I suppose that the telephone insurance enrollers receive the same types of misguided questions, but they are more likely to steer the conversation back to a logical direction.
The basic fact is that this “temporary gap” area of health insurance was not changed by the Affordable Care Act’s massive reforms. But ACA-related information and its massive advertising budgets have increased the “noise level” in the market. Also, separately, I’ve been concerned that changes in search functions by Google and others make it harder for consumers to find basic product information outside of a controlled marketing program. The overall effect is that consumers seem to have a tougher time getting basic information about short term medical insurance choices today.
Freedom Benefits uses a number of resources, product reviews, comparisons and checklist-style articles about short term or temporary medical insurance. The basic landing page for short term medical insurance at Freedom Benefits is http://freedombenefits.net/topic/temporary-health-insurance.html. We use the term “temporary medical insurance” primary as a general descriptive term for discussion purposes to differentiate from specific products that use the term “short term medical insurance” in their name.
Other consumer-oriented resources include:
About 1 in 6 people should not use short term medical insurance due to prior or ongoing medical treatment or because they are not able to work around state laws restricting portability. The coverage is valid everywhere in the U.S. and meant to be portable but this insurance cannot be purchased in certain states. Many of those situations are best handled with personal help of an enrollment adviser at a a multi-state, multi-carrier private insurance exchange. Temporary coverage should be planned in conjunction with the best long term solution. This typically involves consideration of the next enrollment window as well as long term supplemental coverage for most ordinary medical care that is not covered by major medical insurance due to today’s higher policy deductibles. Freedom Benefits is affiliated with Members Insurance Exchange whose telephone enrollers are well-trained to help in this specific situation.