Short-Term Medical Insurance: Explore the New Rules

Short-term medical insurance serves as a temporary solution to bridge gaps in coverage during transitions, such as job changes or waiting periods for employer-sponsored plans. Unlike traditional health insurance, short-term policies aren't bound by federal regulations, offering flexibility but limited comprehensive coverage.

What is Short-Term Medical Insurance?

Short-term medical insurance is a type of health insurance coverage that is designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage when an individual is transitioning from one plan or coverage to another. It is primarily used for individuals who are between jobs or waiting for their employer-sponsored coverage to begin. Unlike traditional health insurance plans, short-term medical insurance is not subject to federal individual market consumer protections and requirements for comprehensive coverage.

On March 28, 2024, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury (together known as the Departments) announced new rules about short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) and certain other types of benefits coverage that are separate from regular health insurance. These rules were proposed on July 12, 2023, and have now been finalized.

These changes aim to support the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by making it easier for people to get affordable and comprehensive health coverage, making health insurance markets stronger, and helping consumers understand the options available to them.

Short-Term Medical Insurance



Short-Term Limited Duration Insurance (STLDI) is a type of health insurance meant to cover short gaps when transitioning between different health plans, like switching jobs. Unlike regular health insurance, STLDI isn’t subject to many federal rules that protect consumers, like bans on discriminating based on health status or pre-existing conditions.

Hospital indemnity and other fixed indemnity insurance are mainly used to provide a cash payout when someone experiences a health event. It’s not a full replacement for regular health insurance. The cash benefit can be used for various expenses, like covering what regular insurance doesn’t, or non-medical costs like rent. In group plans, the payout is usually a fixed amount per day of hospitalization or illness, while in individual plans, it might be per service or period of illness. These benefits must be paid regardless of actual expenses. When these plans meet certain standards, they’re called excepted benefits and aren’t subject to the same rules as comprehensive coverage.


Summary of Final Rules

Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance

The government is changing the rules for Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance (STLDI). Previously, STLDI could last up to 12 months with a total coverage period of 36 months, including renewals. Now, the initial contract can only be for three months, and the total coverage period cannot exceed four months, including renewals.

These changes aim to clarify that STLDI is temporary coverage, different from comprehensive insurance, to protect consumers from long-term risks. Additionally, the rules prevent insurers from offering consecutive STLDI policies to extend coverage beyond the limits, a practice called “stacking,” which can confuse consumers.

The new rules also require clear and simple notices distinguishing STLDI from comprehensive coverage, displayed prominently in policy documents and marketing materials.

The government acknowledges that most STLDI sales happen through group trusts or associations to bypass regulations in consumers’ states. It clarifies that coverage sold this way must meet federal STLDI standards unless it’s part of a group health plan, to ensure consumer protection. The government will collaborate with states and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to oversee STLDI offered through associations.


Fixed Indemnity Excepted Benefits Coverage

These new rules change how consumers are informed about fixed indemnity excepted benefits coverage, both in the individual and group markets. The aim is to make it clearer to consumers what this type of coverage entails compared to comprehensive coverage. Insurers must prominently display this information in their marketing and enrollment materials. Additionally, they must include it in the policy documents for individual market plans.

The purpose of this is to prevent consumers from mistakenly choosing fixed indemnity coverage over comprehensive coverage by ensuring they understand its limitations before enrolling. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also making some technical changes to regulations concerning fixed indemnity excepted benefits coverage in the individual market.

While there were proposed amendments in July 2023 regarding payment standards and coordination requirements for fixed indemnity coverage, these are not being implemented at this time. However, the Departments involved are still concerned about these issues and plan to address them in future rulemaking after further study and consideration of feedback.


Tax Treatment of Certain Benefit Payments in Fixed Amounts Received Under Employer-Provided Accident and Health Plans

The Treasury Department and the IRS proposed changes in July 2023 to make it clear that payments from certain types of employer-provided health insurance plans, like fixed indemnity plans, will not be considered tax-exempt if they’re not based on actual medical expenses. They also proposed that taxpayers must fulfill specific documentation requirements for reimbursements of medical expenses from any employer-provided health plan to be exempt from taxable income. However, these proposed changes are not being implemented immediately to allow for further consideration of feedback and concerns from stakeholders.


Applicability Dates

Starting from September 1, 2024, new short-term limited duration health insurance (STLDI) plans will have different rules. They can only last a certain amount of time, and these rules apply to when the coverage starts after September 1, 2024.

However, for STLDI plans bought or issued before September 1, 2024 (including renewals), they can still be shorter than a year and last up to 36 months. This depends on state laws.

Notices about STLDI coverage will start being required for periods starting after September 1, 2024.

For short-term health insurance and fixed indemnity benefits, there are new notice rules. These rules apply to plans starting on or after January 1, 2025, regardless of when they were bought or issued.


The Banning of Short-Term Medical Insurance

On March 28, 2024, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and the Treasury released final rules regarding short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) and independent, non coordinated excepted benefits coverage. These final rules further the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by improving access to affordable and comprehensive coverage, strengthening health insurance markets, and promoting consumer understanding of their coverage options. 

The revised definition of STLDI in these final rules limits the length of the initial contract term to no more than three months and the maximum coverage period to no more than four months, taking into account any renewals or extensions. These changes are aimed at reducing the financial and health risks to consumers who would otherwise enroll in this limited coverage as a long-term alternative to comprehensive coverage.


Why is Short-Term Medical Insurance Banned?

Short-term medical insurance is banned because it does not provide comprehensive coverage and can leave individuals vulnerable to high medical costs. It is not subject to the same consumer protections as traditional health insurance plans, such as protections against discrimination based on health status, pre-existing condition exclusions, and lifetime and annual dollar limits on essential health benefits. This means that individuals who enroll in short-term medical insurance may not receive the care they need or may face significant financial burdens if they require medical treatment.



The ban on short-term medical insurance represents a significant blow to consumer choice and flexibility in the healthcare market. Here’s why:

  • Limited Options for Transitional Coverage: Short-term medical insurance has been a crucial lifeline for individuals transitioning between jobs or waiting for their employer-sponsored coverage to kick in. By banning this option, the government is effectively limiting access to affordable healthcare during critical transitional periods.
  • Affordability Concerns: For many individuals, short-term medical insurance served as a cost-effective solution, offering lower premiums compared to comprehensive plans. By eliminating this option, individuals may be forced to opt for more expensive coverage options, putting strain on their finances.
  • Flexibility and Customization: Short-term medical insurance provides flexibility and customization options that are not always available with traditional health insurance plans. By banning this option, individuals may be deprived of the ability to tailor their coverage to meet their specific needs and circumstances.
  • Impact on Risk Pool: While proponents argue that banning short-term medical insurance will strengthen risk pools, there’s a risk of unintended consequences. Removing healthier individuals from the short-term insurance pool could lead to adverse selection in comprehensive plans, potentially driving up premiums for everyone.
  • Loss of Consumer Autonomy: The ban on short-term medical insurance represents a paternalistic approach that undermines individual autonomy and decision-making. Consumers should have the freedom to choose the type of coverage that best fits their needs and preferences, without government interference.
  • Disruption for Vulnerable Populations: Certain demographics, such as young adults or those with temporary employment, rely heavily on short-term medical insurance. Banning this option without providing viable alternatives could disproportionately impact these vulnerable populations.
  • Inadequate Transition Period: While the ban may be well-intentioned, the abrupt implementation without sufficient transition periods could leave many individuals without coverage during critical times. A more gradual phasing out of short-term medical insurance would have allowed for smoother transitions and mitigated potential disruptions.


In conclusion, the ban on short-term medical insurance represents a shortsighted policy that restricts consumer choice, affordability, and flexibility in the healthcare market. Instead of outright prohibition, policymakers should focus on enhancing consumer protections and improving transparency to ensure that individuals can make informed decisions about their healthcare coverage.

How does this ban impact you as a Medicare beneficiary? If you are currently enrolled in Medicare, you are unaffected by this ban.


Exploring Alternatives to Short-Term Health Insurance for Non-Medicare Eligible Individuals

If you are not yet eligible for Medicare and are considering buying a short-term health insurance plan, there are a few things you should know. 

  • Firstly, you may want to consider enrolling in a Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. These plans offer higher coverage than short-term plans and are mandated by law to meet certain standards. Additionally, if you qualify for premium tax credits, you may be able to lower your monthly premiums. 
  • Another option is to explore alternative health insurance options such as healthcare-sharing ministries, which are community-based organizations that offer a more affordable approach to sharing healthcare costs among members, although they may not offer the same level of coverage as comprehensive health insurance plans. 

Finally, it is important to note that the Short-Term Medical Ban does not affect other types of insurance, such as life insurance or disability insurance, which can provide additional protection and financial security in the event of unexpected medical expenses or other life events.


The Importance of Comprehensive Health Insurance

Comprehensive health insurance is essential for individuals to protect themselves and their families from unexpected medical costs. It provides coverage for a wide range of medical services, including preventive care, hospitalization, and prescription drugs. Comprehensive health insurance also provides consumer protections that ensure individuals are not discriminated against based on their health status or pre-existing conditions and that they have access to essential health benefits. While short-term medical insurance may be a temporary solution for individuals between jobs or waiting for their employer-sponsored coverage to begin, it is not a long-term solution and does not provide the same level of protection as comprehensive health insurance.


In Summary

In conclusion, Short-Term Medical Insurance may have been a viable option for individuals between jobs or waiting for their employer-sponsored coverage to begin, but it is no longer a long-term solution due to the changes in federal regulations. 

Comprehensive health insurance is essential for individuals to protect themselves and their families from unexpected medical costs and to ensure that they receive the care they need. While short-term medical insurance may be cheaper in the short-term, it can leave individuals vulnerable to high medical costs and significant financial burdens if they require medical treatment. It is important for individuals to carefully consider their options and choose a health insurance plan that provides comprehensive coverage and consumer protections.

If you or someone you know qualifies for Medicare and requires assistance in selecting the appropriate Medicare Supplemental Plan, we are available to offer the necessary information and aid to help you make an informed decision. Connect with one of our reliable agents to learn more about the process.

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