Travel nurses often struggle to choose the right health insurance for their situation. Since travel nurses spend a lot of time on the road, finding the right insurance option is key. Luckily, many travel nursing agencies offer health insurance plans as part of their benefits package. However, with so many options to consider, it’s important to know everything about insurance.
Travel Nurse Health Insurance Options
When it comes to choosing health insurance, there are a couple of options to choose from. In fact, a comprehensive health insurance package that adds extras like pet benefits, retirement account options, employee assistance programs, and mental health management benefits is a sign that you’re working with a good travel nursing agency.
Agency-Provided Health Insurance
Most agencies will offer their travel nurses health insurance. However, not always do the nurses get to choose their coverage. Of course, there are many benefits of choosing the health insurance coverage your agency provides. Being easy and already taken care of is one of those benefits.
When you choose the insurance benefit your agency provides, you won’t experience any gaps in coverage. You count on the flexibility of being able to work with different agencies without worrying about deductibles.
Of course, if you change agencies often, this might not be the best option as you’ll have to adjust your insurance every time. Or, you’ll have to try to maintain your insurance through COBRA, which can often be expensive and sometimes unaffordable.
Individual or Family Health Insurance
Most travel nurses have either an individual or family health insurance plan that they manage personally. These are the plans you can access during the open enrollment period, which often lasts from November 1st to December 15th. You cannot enroll in an individual health insurance plan outside of this timeframe, which can be problematic to some. The only way you could apply is if you have a qualifying life event, such as:
- Having a baby
- Moving outside your plan’s coverage area
- Changing jobs
However, you‘ll only have a 60-day special enrollment period to navigate the health insurance market and pick the right one for you.
Short-term Health Insurance
Another popular option among travel nurses is short-term health insurance plans. These can be much cheaper than individual plans but don’t come with the same comprehensive benefits.
These plans are great for those in-between jobs, looking to switch agencies, or having difficulties affording insurance otherwise. However, unlike individual plans, these can deny your coverage based on pre-existing conditions. They may also not pay for certain health care services, including those related to pre-existing conditions.
What About Supplemental Insurance?
Most insurance packages offered through a travel nursing agency will include vision and dental insurance. However, these often don’t cover routine dental and vision care for those who choose short-term or individual insurance plans.
Luckily, vision and dental insurance is much cheaper than comprehensive insurance and covers vision checks, glasses, and dental cleanings. It’s a matter of personal preference to choose or not these supplemental insurances. If you’re someone who wears glasses, for example, vision insurance might be a good idea.
How to Maintain Coverage Between Travel Nurse Jobs
Many nurses take time between contracts to visit family, go on more extended vacations, or take time off between assignments. This flexibility is one of the perks of being a travel nurse. However, this flexibility can frequently mean you lose your health insurance coverage when it comes to insurance.
Of course, when you choose a travel agency, they’re likely to handle all the details about your insurance policy and explain what your options are. But, if you choose an individual insurance plan, then you have to look at your options.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows eligible employees and their dependents to continue the benefits of existing health insurance coverage if they lose their job. In some 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.
However, these plans can often be unaffordable. This is why many travel nurses opt for short-term insurance plans when they’re in between assignments.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Health Insurance
While the tax penalty for not having health insurance has been repealed at the federal level, you can still be fined at a state level for not having ACA-compliant health insurance.
As of today, you can be fined in the following states:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
Most of these states impose a tax penalty on individuals who go without health insurance but could afford it.
Need More Help?
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.