Few understand the necessity of health insurance better than nurses. Like nurses, health insurance for travel nurses completely depends on the employer. While a staff nurse’s health insurance depends on the facility they work in, health insurance for travel nurses varies from agency to agency.
Do Travel nurses get health insurance?
If you’re asking, “Do travel nurses get health insurance?” there are a few things to consider. Do travel nurses get enough coverage? Is the coverage at a reasonable cost? Are there any gaps or risks in coverage while travel nursing?
Travel Nurse Insurance
Many travel nursing agencies offer health insurance for travel nurses at reasonable rates. But most of the time you’re only covered while you are working on their assignment. Gaps in coverage can be incredibly anxiety pressing and are very possible. Make sure you know the details of the coverage the agency is offering and when they come into effect. If the agency offers health insurance, your recruiter should have answers about the exact start and end dates of your coverage before you sign any contract.
Arguments for Taking the Agency’s health insurance plan
First and foremost, travel nursing agencies make it so easy for you. If you don’t want to get super involved in your health insurance process then you should strongly consider taking the agency’s coverage. They make it so easy for you that all you have to do is sign on the dotted line and the agency does the rest.
The agency’s health insurance plan is often cheaper than finding your own solution. Sometimes the agency will cover a decent portion of your coverage so as to entice you signing with them. Also, travel nursing agencies have access to economies of scale which enable you as an individual to access the benefits of corporate capabilities.
The agency’s health insurance plan often has better coverage than outside solutions. This is the case because insurance companies are willing to offer more coverage with agencies that cover plenty of nurses. This accumulation of coverage plans allows the insurance companies to offer more because they spread the risk over more plans. This is considered “risk pooling” which is a very common practice in the insurance and financial industry.
Reasons why you might want to think twice about taking an agency’s coverage
When taking an agency’s health insurance plan, gaps in coverage are simply too common. Not every agency’s health insurance starts right away. Some agencies’ plans don’t take effect until a month into the assignment. Also, a travel nursing agency will only cover you while you are on their assignment. So that means if you use more than one agency, then you’ll have a gap in coverage between assignments. While emergencies are rare, they can happen at any time, so gaps in coverage can be devastating to those who live paycheck to paycheck.
From the information above, you might conclude that you should stick with the same travel nursing agency throughout your career. Except for the issue with that approach is that you would be limiting your pay. Agencies in competition offer either more benefits or more pay. But if you limit yourself to only one agency, then their monopoly will determine the price of your labor.
If you work with multiple agencies then your deductible thresholds may change. If you had to pay a $1,000 annual deductible to take advantage of out-of-network providers in your first agency and your second agency only requires you to pay a $500 annual deductible you will not get your money back from your initial deductible.
One last reason against the agency’s plan is that your coverage depends completely on your employment. If you get terminated, then your coverage is also terminated until you can find a new job with new benefits. If you go on vacation between assignments you will not be covered so you have to continue working throughout the year if you want to be covered for the whole year.
Arguments for Private health insurance for travel nurses
Private health insurance for travel nurses is great for a few reasons. The first reason is that there will be no gaps in coverage. Private health insurance for travel nurses is optimal for those who suffer from anxiety who need peace of mind. If you are a worrier, then private health insurance is the plan for you.
These private plans can be a little more money, but they enable you to earn more because you can work with as many travel nursing agencies as you’d like. Some agencies will even pay you more if you’re covered because it’s less of a hassle for them.
Private health insurance for travel nurses also enables complete freedom and flexibility to travel between assignments. If you are covered by an agency’s plan you will not be covered during your vacation between assignments. If you are a fan of complete freedom and flexibility then you may want to consider siding with private health insurance for travel nur
Options for Private health insurance for travel nurses
PPO, HMO & POS
PPO – Preferred Provider Organization
This health insurance plan gives you an entire network of preferred health care providers. This type of insurance plan will pay a significant portion of your bills when you’re using preferred providers within the network. The total amount covered will depend on your individual plan. You can still use out of network providers but your copay will be higher than it would if you used an in-network provider.
PPO for Travel Workers
This is a good plan for travel nurses because many of these preferred networks will expand over several states. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to make sure there are preferred providers in the area of your next travel nursing assignment.
HMO – Health Maintenance Organization
You pick a Primary Care Physician (PCP) and you’ll need their referral for any special kind of care. All of your referrals will be within your HMO network. You’ll have to pay all costs if you use a healthcare provider out of your network unless it’s a true medical emergency.
HMO for Travel Workers
This isn’t a great plan for travel nurses as your physician and his network will most likely be local.
POS – Point of Service
The POS plan is a hybrid of HMO and PPO. You still have a Primary Care Physician, PCP, who gives you referrals but the out-of-network healthcare providers are more accessible. The network will be bigger than HMOs, but smaller than PPOs. Your access to out-of-network providers does come at an increased cost, but these hybrid plans do cover a portion of the out-of-network provider costs so you don’t have to pay entirely out of pocket.
POS plans can be 50% cheaper than PPO plans, it really depends on the deductibles. But while they may be cheaper in terms of money, fully understanding POS plans can take a lot of time as they tend to be really confusing. Every POS plan has different copays and deductibles and transparent information isn’t always completely available. Just as deductibles can be costly, premiums can cost 50% more than HMO plans.
Like PPOs, POS Plans require an incredible amount of paperwork for out-of-network healthcare providers. You will still need your Primary Care Physician’s referral for out-of-network healthcare providers and these referrals can sometimes be time-consuming to get. After your doctor’s visit, it will often be the case that you will have to pay the full amount and wait for 3 to 6 months for a reimbursement. In these instances, make sure to keep all receipts.
POS for Travel Workers
POS Plans are okay for travelers as you can enjoy some geographic flexibility because the plan will cover some medical coverage. But remember, in some plans, you have to reach a high annual deductible in order to be partially covered for out-of-network providers.