Not having health insurance can cause worry and feelings of insecurity for even the healthiest people. Accidents can happen, and health insurance can keep you from breaking the bank.
If you regularly travel, good health coverage is doubly important for peace of mind since you are already dealing with many adjustments. The last thing you want to lose sleep over is whether you can get access to affordable medical care when you need it.
As a travel nurse, there are many options for health coverage you can consider to be sure your needs are met. Here we discuss these options and how choosing different ones can affect your experience as you travel for your nursing assignments.
Table of Contents
- Do Travel Nurses Get Health Insurance?
- What Is the Best Insurance Option for Travel Nurses?
- 3 Additional Insurance Options To Consider as a Travel Nurse
- Rest Assured, You Will Be Insured With Trusted Nurse Staffing
Do Travel Nurses Get Health Insurance?
Most travel nursing agencies provide health insurance, but the coverage is not always sufficient for a nurse’s needs, making it necessary to supplement with some other insurance. The quality of coverage depends on the agency and the plan that the nurse chooses.
How Do Travel Nurses Get Health Insurance?
After considering your needs carefully and studying the options available, you will be better informed to decide what sort of health insurance package to secure.
Private Health Insurance
Some travel nurses may choose to purchase private health insurance plans on the healthcare marketplace or directly from insurance providers, as opposed to plans offered by government-run insurance programs.
Often the insurance is sponsored by a person’s employer, in which case much of the premium cost is covered. If it is purchased through the marketplace, subsidies may cover much of the premium cost, but it depends on the person’s income.
This option allows for more flexibility in choosing coverage options and providers. Keep in mind that private insurance can be costly, and coverage may vary.
There are four main types of networks that you can choose from for your private insurance plan.
- HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) – You must choose a primary care physician, and you may only see doctors within the network.
- PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) – You have the flexibility of seeing caregivers outside the network but may get less coverage and benefits.
- EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization) – You do not need to choose a primary care physician, but you must see doctors within the network.
- POS (Point of Service) – A combination of HMO and PPO: You must have a referral to see a specialist and have some coverage for care outside the network.
Spouse or Family Coverage
If you have a spouse or family member with access to health insurance, you may be able to join their plan as a dependent, if you are under the age of 26, as stipulated by the Affordable Care Act. This can be a cost-effective option for some travel nurses.
It is not always the best option, particularly if one spouse has significant medical conditions that increase the premium. But if your spouse or someone in your family has access to a high-quality plan sponsored by their employer, it might be relatively inexpensive for them to add you to their policy.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Travel nurses who only need coverage for short periods may consider short-term health insurance plans. These plans provide limited coverage and are generally designed for temporary gaps in coverage, making it ideal for travel nurses who might not take back-to-back contracts or travel during their vacation days with their staff position.
Some negative aspects of short-term health insurance plans are:
- They have a high deductible.
- They may not be available in all states.
- They may not cover the following:
- Sports-related injuries
- Pre-existing conditions
Depending on your income and circumstances, you may be eligible for government programs like Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. These programs can provide affordable health insurance options, but they won’t be available to all travel nurses.
ACA programs provide coverage for preventive care, pre-existing conditions, doctor visits, prescriptions, and lab tests. There is an established enrollment period that you must honor in order to be approved for coverage.
Health Savings Account
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged savings account that individuals can use to save money for qualified medical expenses. HSAs are designed to work in conjunction with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and offer specific financial benefits, but there are downsides, too.
If you contribute to an HSA, you reduce your taxable income. Also, if you receive funds from your HSA to pay for a qualified medical expense, it is not taxed. The catch is that you must make contributions to this account for it to grow, and this can be difficult since you would already be required to pay a high deductible.
If you have health insurance through your previous employer and are eligible for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), you can continue your existing coverage for a limited time after leaving that job. However, you will be responsible for the full premium, which can be expensive, and your coverage will end if you have a late payment.
Some advantages of COBRA are that you do not have to start with a new deductible, and copays will remain the same as in your recent plan.
Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance
About half of Americans receive insurance through their employers.
Many travel nursing agencies offer health insurance as part of their employment package. This can include medical, dental, and vision coverage. The agency will typically deduct premiums from the nurse’s paycheck, and coverage usually begins on the first day of the assignment.
The employer typically pays a significant portion of the premium for you (financial help that isn’t taxed!) and saves you the trouble of choosing plan options. However, you will be limited to the doctors and hospitals approved by your employer.
What Is the Best Insurance Option for Travel Nurses?
There are pros and cons to each option. Everyone’s situation is unique, so considering the questions below will help in making a decision.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Travel Nurse Health Insurance Option
Everyone has unique circumstances, so what is right for one person might not be a viable option for another. The following questions can help you narrow down the most feasible options for you:
- What is the cost of each option?
- Which option is the most feasible for your budget?
- How does the coverage compare?
- Is the insurance part of your compensation, and will you receive cash in exchange if you don’t take the agency coverage?
- Does your insurance cover any pre-existing conditions you have?
- Does your insurance include dependents?
- Will the in-network providers be easily accessible to you in your work location?
- Will you need supplemental insurance, such as vision and dental?
- Will you have any gaps in your coverage?
- What are the implications of each option for federal and state taxes?
- How much flexibility will you have to go out-of-network if need be?
3 Additional Insurance Options To Consider as a Travel Nurse
Comprehensive medical insurance is critical, but nurses should make sure they are covered for more than medical.
In the event of a nurse’s untimely death, life insurance ensures that the family of the deceased individual receives financial help. This money might cover expenses like funeral costs or just assist family members in adjusting to a situation in which their loved one is no longer earning an income.
There are many different coverage plans that specify the length and amount of coverage, plus the terms of renewal when coverage ends.
- Term life insurance plans may last 10, 20, or 30 years.
- Decreasing – Coverage decreases over the life of the policy.
- Convertible – Policyholders can convert this to permanent life insurance.
- Renewable – This is a one-year term that renews each year at a higher premium.
- Permanent life insurance is more expensive and lasts as long as the policyholder continues to pay premiums.
- Whole life insurance – This type accumulates a cash value that can be used to pay off premiums.
- Universal life insurance – This type has a cash value component that earns interest and flexible premiums.
If a nurse is rendered unable to work for an extended period of time because of an adverse health circumstance, disability insurance allows him or her to receive an income until working is once again feasible.
Nursing — especially in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities, and in-home health care — is a strenuous occupation, which carries a greater risk of illness or injury than many others. Thus it may be worthwhile to prioritize disability insurance, even if you do not foresee any illness or injury that could prevent you from working.
There are different degrees of disability and lengths of time needed for recovery and return to work, and these are what determine the type of disability coverage you could be eligible for.
- Short-term disability insurance is available for up to a year if you are unable to do your specific job, and while you receive benefits, you may not earn income from another job.
- Long-term disability insurance — which you can receive for 2 years, 5 years, or up to age 65 — may allow you to earn income from another job.
Hospital Indemnity Insurance
Hospital indemnity insurance allows you to receive payments to cover the cost of extended hospital stays. For instance, if you have a child or need surgery or treatment that requires a multiple-day recovery period, this type of insurance can help you offset the costs. The money is paid directly to you, so you may also use it for other out-of-pocket expenses, as you see fit.
An indemnity plan may appeal to travel nurses because there are no geographic restrictions to what care providers they can choose, and there is no need to choose a primary care provider. But there are also less appealing aspects of this kind of insurance:
- It is often expensive, requiring high upfront costs.
- It can be hectic to submit claims for reimbursement.
- They may or may not cover hospital stays warranted by pre-existing conditions.
Rest Assured, You Will Be Insured With Trusted Nurse Staffing
Trusted Nurse Staffing will ensure you do not embark on a travel nursing assignment without the insurance plan best suited for your needs.
Create a profile on our Pronto software to begin the process of finding your preferred placement as well as insurance coverage that leaves you feeling secure while you are far from home.