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Interim Health Insurance

If you are between jobs, recently divorced, a recent college graduate or if you are waiting for a new health plan to take effect, interim insurance can fill the gap for you until you find permanent coverage. Interim health insurance is designed to provide coverage for a short period of time, usually from one to six months. Several deductible and coinsurance options are available, with the premium cost varying depending upon the features that you choose.

Interim insurance typically covers the same things as conventional permanent medical insurance such as prescription drugs, hospitalization, emergency room, doctors’ services in the hospital and in the office. It is designed with unforeseen accidents and illnesses in mind rather than long-term comprehensive coverage. Therefore, an interim health plan does not usually cover preventative care like physicals, immunizations, dental visits or vision care. Pregnant women are not eligible for interim insurance and maternity benefits are not covered for women who become pregnant after they purchase the insurance.

This type of policy does not cover pre-existing conditions, which means that it will not cover any condition that has been diagnosed or treated within the last three to five years. Interim insurance plans are exempt from HIPAA legislation. This means that when issuing a short term health insurance policy, insurance carriers do not have to guarantee renewal, guarantee issue, or waive the pre-existing condition limitation for federally eligible individuals. Interim health insurance is not COBRA coverage and is not subject to COBRA health insurance laws. Many people select interim health insurance as a lower cost alternative to COBRA.

Interim insurance polices, like permanent insurance polices, allow you to use the doctor or hospital of your choice. Each state determines the features of the policies that can be offered to their residents. Be sure to check with your state insurance commissioner’s office so you will understand the choices that are available to you.

One of the major advantages of interim insurance is that coverage can begin immediately. You may also designate a specific date as much as 30 days in the future. If you don’t know exactly how long you will need coverage you will typically pay for an initial period of 35 days and then pay for additional periods of 30 days each for as long as you want the coverage to continue. You will usually save 20% of the premium cost if you pay the entire amount in advance.

Even though the policy expires after six months, you may be eligible to reapply if you meet certain criteria. Any condition that incurred expense during the last coverage period will be treated as a pre-existing condition and will be excluded during the next coverage period. Find out in advance if the company you select provides this option. Bear in mind that interim policies ought to be considered only for those people who are in-between insurance coverage and that it should not be a replacement for a standard and comprehensive health insurance policy.

It is critical that you do your homework when choosing your insurance company. When you narrow your choices down, call your state insurance commissioner’s office to make sure that the companies you are considering have good customer service and no financial or legal issues. Find out in advance how to file a dispute with the insurance company if a problem should arise.

Here are some other factors to consider when choosing your interim insurance provider:

» What are the deductibles?

» What is the co-pay for a doctor’s visit?

» What is the maximum limit per claim?

» What percentage will the policy pay once the deductible is met?

» Is prescription coverage included in the plan?

» What are my estimated out of pocket expenses?

Some people, particularly healthy young people, often choose just to go without coverage for a short period rather than buy interim insurance. This can be disastrous. One visit to the emergency room can easily cost thousands of dollars. It would be a tragedy for a young person to begin his or her career already saddled with debt, or even worse, with health problems that could have been addressed if they had purchased interim insurance. Being without insurance is not worth the risk.

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