As a traveling healthcare professional, you are working temporary job assignments. Healthcare coverage can be an issue, especially if you are constantly changing companies or going for long periods of time without work. So what do you do for insurance as a traveling therapist or nurse?
Be on Your Family Plan
If you are married to a spouse who has health insurance or if you are under 26 years old and your parents have health insurance, you can be on their plan. This is potentially the easiest solution to finding health insurance as a traveler. Hooray if this works for you!
Buy a Private Health Insurance Plan
Holding your own private insurance plan lessens the stress of dealing with insurance through your agency. You can buy directly from insurance companies or through brokers. By holding your own insurance plan, you know that you will always have insurance (as long as you make payments).
Places to buy private insurance:
To determine a quote for yourself, check out any of these links, enter your information and receive quotes via email.
Take Agency Insurance
Traveling agencies provide health insurance to travelers on assignment. Each company uses different plans and it is important to determine if the health insurance works for you before you sign a contract to accept it.
If you are loyal to one agency, it may be a lot easier to take company insurance than if you switch agencies a lot. If you know you are going to switch agencies a bit, you may want to buy your own private insurance.
Things to consider:
When does the insurance start (day 1, 30 days, etc)
What is the deductible?
Does the company offer a health reimbursement fund to help cover out-of-pocket expenses?
What happens to the insurance when my contract terminates?
How much will the insurance cost per paycheck?
If I Have Agency Insurance What Happens if My Contract Ends?
If you have agency insurance, you’ll want to know up front what the policy is for the plan at the end of a contract. Many agencies will allow you to keep your insurance for a specified amount of time if you take another contract with them. Usually this is between a 2-week to 30-day window and is NON-NEGOTIABLE because it is based on the insurance plan policy.
What Happens if I Need Insurance Longer After a Contract?
If you need insurance for longer than the time allotted by the insurance company, you can apply for COBRA. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. This is a federal law that requires employers of 20 or more employees who offer health care benefits to offer the option of continuing this coverage to individuals who would lose benefits because of termination or loss of hours. By law, your agency has to offer you COBRA as an option when your insurance ends.
By signing onto COBRA, that means that you cover 100% of your health insurance premiums. You can keep the same plan that you had with your agency, you just have to pay for it 100% out of pocket. In my experience, this can run anywhere from $450-$800/month for a single individual.
You have 60 days after your policy has ended to elect COBRA coverage. If you elect coverage, your plan gets retroactive to the date when you lost coverage. Thus, if you use COBRA, you will not have any gaps in coverage, even though it may take a couple of weeks to sign up and pay your first payment.
COBRA PRO TIP: The information to sign up for COBRA is SNAIL MAILED to you from your agency. Make sure that your agency has a proper address at the end of your contract for the mail to reach you. I have had many COBRA packets lost in transit because of moving and mail forwards.
Hopefully this piece has helped to answer your questions about health insurance as a traveler. If you have any questions about your agency’s insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask their HR/benefits department directly to better understand your agency’s plan.