ACA Short-Term, Non-ACA Compliant Plans: What You Need to Know

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has significantly reshaped the health insurance landscape in the United States. While many Americans have gained access to comprehensive and affordable coverage under the ACA, others have opted for non-ACA compliant plans, such as short-term plans or healthcare sharing ministries (HCSMs).

What are Short-Term Plans?

Short-term plans are temporary health insurance policies that typically last for three months to a year. They are not subject to the same regulations as ACA-compliant plans and therefore offer lower premiums. However, they also come with significant limitations.

Limitations of Short-Term Plans

Limited coverage: Short-term plans do not cover many essential health benefits, such as maternity care, mental health, and substance abuse treatment.
Pre-existing condition exclusions: Short-term plans can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Annual and lifetime limits: Short-term plans often have annual and lifetime limits on the amount of coverage they provide.
Non-renewable: Short-term plans cannot be renewed indefinitely.

What are Healthcare Sharing Ministries (HCSMs)?

HCSMs are religious-based organizations that offer health coverage to members. They are not regulated by state or federal insurance laws and therefore do not have to provide the same benefits as ACA-compliant plans.

Limitations of HCSMs

Limited coverage: HCSMs typically do not cover many essential health benefits.
No guaranteed coverage: HCSMs are not required to pay for medical expenses.
No consumer protections: HCSMs are not subject to the same consumer protections as ACA-compliant plans.

Risks of Non-ACA Compliant Plans

While non-ACA compliant plans may offer lower premiums, they come with significant risks. If you have a pre-existing condition or need comprehensive coverage, you should avoid these plans.

Seeking Professional Help

If you are struggling to afford ACA-compliant coverage, it is crucial to seek professional help. There are licensed agents and financial counselors who can help you explore your options and find a plan that meets your needs and budget.


Non-ACA compliant plans, such as short-term plans and HCSMs, may offer lower premiums but come with significant limitations and risks. If you value comprehensive coverage and consumer protections, it is best to opt for an ACA-compliant plan.

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