People have various reasons for becoming a travel nurse. For one, there’s the flexibility of time off between contracts. Then, there’s the opportunity to travel. But, with the average nursing student graduating with anywhere between $40,000 and $54,900 in debt, the pay difference compared to being a staff nurse, is reason enough to choose this lifestyle.
However, as a travel nurse, tackling your student loan debt, in addition to your traveling debt can seem quite the challenge. Don’t despair, the fact that you’re currently working as a travel nurse will help you tremendously to tackle your loans and become debt-free.
Understand Your Debt
To tackle your debt efficiently, you must understand how each one works. For example, most student loans have fluctuating interest rates and high fees. On the other hand, credit card debts tend to have high-interest rates too. But then, you have something like a mortgage, which hopefully has a fixed rate.
Most people assume tackling their most significant debt first should be their strategy. However, most financial experts agree that handling your debts with the highest interest rates, fluctuating rates, or high fees, should be your priority.
For example, the average student loan carries an interest rate of 4.53% to 7.08%. But, the average interest rate on credit cards is 15.09%. So, following the one-debt-at-a-time technique, you should focus on your credit card payments first, and then, start tackling your student loan.
Of course, each case will be different. If you’re struggling with multiple debts and loans, consider speaking to a financial expert that can help guide your decision on how to tackle debt.
Cut Down Expenses Back Home
Once you’re aware of the structure of your debt, it’s time to find ways to save more money. One way to do that? By cutting expenses back home. Check if your house qualifies as a tax home, and if there are some tax deductions, you can benefit from every year. Perhaps you can deduct meals, certain travel expenses, and even professional expenses.
If you own a home, consider if there’s a possibility to rent out a room while you’re gone. If you live by yourself, maybe listing your place on Airbnb while you’re on assignment can help you bring in additional income. Ask your cable and Internet provider to see if you can pause the service for the months you’ll be on assignment.
Otherwise, do your best to downside your permanent home and figure out ways to cut down on expenses such as gardening, utilities, and so on.
Set Up an Assignment Budget
Having a budget will help you get a better idea of where you’re spending money. Working long hours and fluctuating schedules can easily change your perspective on spending. Between transportation expenses, rent, travel arrangments, taxes, and so on, it can be easy to drop large sums of money without realizing it. Thus, ending up with more debt than ever before.
As you create your budget, set different categories for your recurring expenses, for example:
- Food and dining
- Personal products
Give yourself some wiggle room in each one of these categories to have some potential money leftover.
Then, once you can see how much money is left over, you can create a separate budget to allocate a payment towards paying your debts. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan, list your debts by priorities, and highlight how much you will be able to pay each month.
Control Your Travel Expenses
Even though, as a travel nurse, you spend most of the days working, travel expenses can add up quickly. Make sure you’re using the budget to help you stay on track with your expenses. Analyze where you can cut down:
- Consider driving towards your assignment city versus flying
- Think about finding a roommate(s) to divide living expenses
- Choose smaller towns that have lower living-costs than larger cities
- Avoid eating out as much as possible
- Analyze the pros and cons of using public transportation versus renting a vehicle
Overall, being mindful of your expenses will help you work towards minimizing your debt in the long run. If you’re able to stick with your budget, managing your expenses shouldn’t be an issue.
Keep in mind that life happens, and as a travel nurse, shifts can often be everchanging, making your expenses the last thing on your mind. Consider syncing your bank account and credit cards to a budget app on your smartphone to stay organized. Make sure you have automatic payments set up for your credit cards to avoid late-fees. Set up reminders or auto-pays for your non-high-priority debts, so you can at least pay the minimum balance each month.
The Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses earn slightly more than staff nurses, placing you at an advantage to tackle your debt. If you’re able to track your expenses, take advantage of tax deductions for travel nurses, and set up your budget, most likely, you’ll be able to pay off your debt.
It might be challenging in the beginning, and cut-cutting measurements might take time to become habits, but you can do this. Remember that all of these steps towards a debt-free life are somewhat temporary. Once you’re able to get rid of your most burdening debts, you’ll have to adjust your budget to make sure you remain debt-free going forward.
If you work with a travel nurse agency, remember to tap into their resources. Most travel agencies can help you with housing and travel expenses by pairing you with partners or other travel nurses. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an agent and discuss your debt situation. While they might not provide financial assistance, they might be able to offer solutions to help you control your expenses.
The importance of having health insurance coverage is paramount for everyone – especially travel nurses. However, most travel nurses depend solely on their employers for health insurance coverage. Unlike traditional nurses, travel nurses often change from agency to agency, making keeping health insurance rather complicated.
The Basics of Travel Nurse Insurance
Most travel nurses believe they won’t be eligible for health care coverage because they travel all the time. Not to mention, due to the nature of their work, switching employers is a common practice. Besides, they’re often looked at as contract or temporary workers, rather than full-time employees. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most travel nurses are eligible to receive health insurance coverage under their agency’s contracts. Not to mention, most of the time, these health insurance plans cover dental and vision as well.
Do Travel Nurses Get Health Insurance?
They do. However, it depends. The majority of nursing agencies do offer health insurance for travel nurses. But, most of the time, coverage is only available when you’re on assignment. Reading the start and end dates of your coverage before you sign any contract is crucial to ensure you understand the extent of your health insurance coverage under the agency’s specific plan.
Pros & Cons of Choosing the Agency’s Health Insurance Policy
There are always two sides to a travel nursing agency healthcare coverage offering. Just as they’re with any other company that offers health plan coverage for their employees.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of choosing the agency’s health insurance policy.
- The travel nursing agency makes the process of setting up your health insurance policy without you having to do all the work.
- Often, the agency’s health insurance plan is more affordable than finding private insurance on your own. Most of the time, agencies cover some, if not all, of the cost.
- Usually, the agency’s insurance plan offers better coverage than external solutions.
- Often, gaps in coverage are common. Not all agencies’ health insurances start right away.
- Most travel nursing agency insurances only cover you while you’re on assignment. Your coverage depends entirely on your employment.
- When working with multiple agencies, your health insurance deductible thresholds might change.
Pros & Cons of Choosing a Private Health Insurance Policy
Like any other employee, travel nurses have the option to decline coverage through the agency and seek their coverage through a private policy. Similarly to choosing the agency’s plan, there are some ups and downs of taking private insurance coverage.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of preferring a private health insurance policy as a travel nurse.
- There won’t be any gaps in coverage.
- It provides greater flexibility and personalization to meet your healthcare needs.
- It allows you to work with as many agencies as you want without worrying about deductibles.
- Private insurance policies are often more expensive. You’ll have to pay for the policy on its fullest.
- You’ll have to do the research and the enrolling process by yourself.
- Might not provide the same coverage or benefits as the agency’s insurance policy. Often, it will be less.
Travel Nurse Insurance Options
Once you’ve chosen between the agency’s health plan or private insurance, it’s time to analyze the different options available. Keep in mind that these will change based on the type of health insurance plans your agency offers.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
With this plan, you have access to a network of preferred healthcare providers chosen by the insurance company. Choose this type of plan if you’re expecting to see specialists often and if you plan to stay at the same location for quite some time.
- The network of providers is only local.
- In-Network providers are usually covered entirely.
- Out-of-network providers are still available at a higher co-pay rate.
PPO for Travel Workers
Similarly to the previous plan, but with a broader network of providers. Choose this type of policy if you know you’ll be moving across different states.
- The network of providers expands over several states.
- You’ll have to check the different providers in each state.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)
With this plan, you must choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP). To see any specialist, you’ll need a referral from your PCP. Choose this style of plans if you already have a PCP or primary healthcare provider.
- Referrals must be within your HMO network.
- You’ll have to pay for all the costs if you use an out-of-network provider.
- Medical emergencies may be covered whether providers are in-network or not.
Online PPO plans, HMO plans require a primary healthcare provider, which can only be local.
Point of Service (POS)
Consider this a hybrid plan, including some aspects of an HMO and some of the PPO policy. With this type of policy, you still need a Primary Care Physician, but your out-of-network providers are more affordable.
- Access to a bigger network than HMOs, but smaller than PPOs.
- Visits to out-of-network providers are partially covered.
- Often have high deductibles and premiums.
Maintaining Your Travel Nurse Insurance Policy
When it comes to choosing healthcare coverage as a travel nurse, there are many questions. What will it cover? Will my insurance stop working if I’m on vacation? What happens if I switch travel nursing agencies? Can I keep my insurance after my assignment is completed? These are all valid questions you should pose to the agency you’re considering before signing any agreement.
However, in most cases, whether you’re a travel nurse or a contract employee with benefits, know that leaving or changing jobs is a qualifying event for you to be open to purchase or seek health insurance again.
All of this is thanks to COBRA, The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Under this federal health insurance program, eligible employees and their dependents can continue the benefits of existing health insurance coverage if they lose their job.
In almost all cases, whether you willingly or involuntarily leave a job, which means your benefits are terminated, you’re eligible for COBRA coverage. The best part? In the majority of the cases, you’ll be able to purchase the same health coverage plan at your employee’s group rate. Under COBRA, you can continue this type of coverage for up to 18 months, or over, if you qualify.
How to Apply for COBRA
If you have a qualifying event in your career, meaning you voluntarily left an agency or you’re terminated, you have time to file for COBRA coverage.
- Ask your employer to notify their plan administrators within 30 days of your departure.
- Wait up to 14 days to receive an election or qualifying notice from your plan administrator.
- You have up to 60 days to file all paperwork and send it back to the administrator.
- Then, you have 45 days to pay the initial premium.
Of course, all of this applies when you choose to accept the agency’s health insurance plan in the first place. If you decided to use private insurance instead, remember that you’re responsible for the payments, whether you’re employed or not.
What to Consider When Looking for the Right Travel Nurse Insurance Plan
Choosing the right travel nurse insurance plan is a personal decision. You have to consider your current health needs, the type of medications and prescriptions you require, your family-planning schedule, and so forth.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right one.
- When does coverage starts? Some travel nursing agencies offer coverage from day one, while others have a more extended waiting period.
- What are the premiums and copays? Make sure you’re able to negotiate or find the lowest premiums and co-pay options possible.
- Are dental and visual coverage included? Having a more comprehensive plan will be more beneficial and cheaper in the long run.
- What about prescription medication coverage? If you need regular prescriptions, ask about the out-of-pocket cost for prescriptions under the various plans they offer.
- Can you get coverage between jobs? Even if you don’t switch agencies, ask about what happens when you’re on vacation or not on an assignment. Some travel nursing agencies will extend your coverage during your time off.
Want to Learn More about Travel Nurse Insurance?
Stability Healthcare is an industry leader in travel nursing. Our outstanding benefits include day-1 premium insurance, paid-time-off, and competitive pay. Visit our benefits page to learn more about our packages. If you still have questions, contact our representatives. They are always available to help you start a fascinating career in the travel nursing field.Read More
Who doesn’t love getting paid? Stability Healthcare knows we aren’t the only source for nursing careers, which is why we’re here to prove we have some of the best rates on the market. This month, Stability is running Compare for Cash, a campaign where you compare your current salary or competitor’s quote with us and we will send you 10 dollars!
With travel nurses in high demand, travel nursing salaries are often higher than the salaries of the permanent hospital staff. If you want to fill your wallet and your desire for adventure, travel nursing might be the right fit for you. When picking a travel nursing placement, salary is one of the main considerations for a lot of people because no one wants to be financially stressed on top of moving to a new city.
Stability makes travel nursing easy for you; just pick your destination and we’ll sort out the details. Not only are you getting the base salary advertised, but, typically, you will receive additional benefits through the Stability Healthcare Nursing Agency. The benefits vary from placement to placement, but the agency assists you with housing, travel reimbursement, licensing support and fees, bonuses, incentives, benefit packages, and retirement needs.
Think you are ready to learn more about the competitive wages that travel nursing offers? Go compare your rates with Stability. All it takes is some basic information about your current position, and not only will we compare your rates with the desired Stability placements for free, but we will also send you $10 just for doing so!Read More