If you are a traveling nurse, you must be wondering about available health insurance for travel nurses. We have created a quick list for some of the top options.
Top Health Insurance Options for Travel Nurses
Health insurance for travel nurses is oftentimes a complicated consideration. When you’re on the road and relocating multiple times a year, you need reliable health insurance without any gaps. You also don’t want to pay a fortune for it.
Travel nurses are an important part of the US healthcare system. The need for travel nurses (nurses who travel to different locations and work temporarily) came about as a result of a shortage of nurses.
So hospitals started hiring nurses as and when their needs arose.
Do travel nurses need health insurance? Of course, they do, like everyone else.
They may take care of the sick, but they themselves are also prone to getting sick.
So having a healthcare plan that covers their needs while traveling to different states is a must.
Health Insurance Options for Travel Nurses
There are basically two options for travel nurses for health insurance: agency health insurance or private health insurance. Most travel nurses work with agencies on a contractual basis, who station them across the states on assignments.
These assignments are normally for 13 weeks but can be as short as 8 weeks or as long as 24 weeks.
So you first have to decide whether you want to stick to the coverage provided by your agency or find your own health insurance. To help make it easier, here are the pros and cons of each:
Agency Health Insurance Plan
Agency health insurance plans can be a quick solution for your healthcare needs, but it’s not without some disadvantages.
The number one advantage of going with the agency’s health insurance plan is that you avoid the hassle of finding a healthcare plan. Agencies usually have a default provider and a standard coverage, so there aren’t many choices to choose from. More importantly, it’s a lot more affordable than going for private health insurance.
It’s basically similar to how corporate companies offer their employees health insurance at reduced rates. They do so because of the cheaper rates they get because they bring in so many people into the provider’s system.
Another benefit is that you may get a wholesome coverage with dental and vision benefits as well. You might not have to shell out more money for these additional coverages.
The problem with going with your agency’s health insurance is that it may only be valid when you’re on the job. This may create gaps in your coverage for when you’re not on an assignment. You don’t want to be left without coverage for days when you’re not stationed at a hospital.
You may not be covered if you’re working for another agency as well. Also, your deductible might increase.
On the contrary, if you do stick to one agency, you may not make as much money as you can by working for multiple agencies.
Much like other job-linked health insurance plans, you only have coverage as long as you’re working. As soon as you’re terminated, your coverage ends, which can be stressful.
Private Health Insurance
Private health insurance fills some of the gaps found in the agency provided healthcare plan. However, that doesn’t mean it’s without some disadvantages.
Private health insurance plans will cover you throughout the year, no matter if you’re on the job or not. This saves you from any potential pitfalls because of the gaps in agency health insurance coverage.
Another big benefit is that you can register and work with several agencies. Your coverage will cover regardless of which agency’s assignment you’re on. This means you can earn more money and work every week if you want to.
Lastly, you have the freedom to find and choose a plan that meets your medical needs if you have a condition. While agency plans provide coverage everywhere you go, that doesn’t mean it’s always good. With a private insurance provider, you can go for a reliable plan.
The main case against going for private health insurance when you’re a travel nurse is the high cost. These plans would almost certainly have higher premiums and copays compared with the agency’s plan. However, that can be offset by earning more through different agencies.
Another con you need to watch out for is the coverage. Remember, you’re a travel nurse traveling through different states, so you need coverage everywhere. A private health insurance plan with a mostly local network will not work for you.
PPO vs. HMO for Travel Nurses
When going for private health insurance as a travel nurse, you’ll have to choose between a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) or an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization). You should go for a PPO as it has a bigger network expanded in many states. You’ll be able to find an in-network health practitioner everywhere you go.
In comparison, an HMO uses a Primary Care Physician (PCP) that refers you to specialists. That means you’ll have to change PCPs often or simply pay more as you travel and consult with doctors outside of their network.
You can also go for POS (Point of Service), which is a combination of the two. It will be cheaper than a PPO.
Best Health Insurance Options for Travel Nurses
If you’re not completely satisfied with the coverage the health insurance provider your agency uses or you just feel the pros of private health insurance weigh more, you opt for the following best health insurance companies for travel nurses:
Cigna is one of the largest health insurance providers in the country. So it can make a good choice for travel nurses if they want to get individual or family insurance. This means wherever you go for a nursing assignment, the policy stays valid.
Cigna offers relatively affordable PPO and HMO plans, although you should stick with the former. If you’re a nurse with diabetes and rely on insulin, you can save quite some money on your insulin every month with their insurance plans.
Those who are a stickler for savings, this private insurance provider will save you some decent money on healthcare expenditure.
United Healthcare is the country’s biggest health insurance provider that offers multitudes of plans. While you can certainly get annual coverage, you can also go for short-term coverage to fill the gaps between your agency provided coverage.
Dental and vision can be purchased separately, so you can save money by going for a medical-only. They also have other products that may benefit you as a travel nurse. For instance, if you get stationed abroad as well, you can also buy their travel insurance.
Again, it’s one of those providers that have a vast network, so you’ll have access to in-network doctors in most states and counties.
Aetna offers many affordable options for individuals and families. As a travel nurse, you may want to save money by buying the cheapest plan available. However, that shouldn’t mean compromising on coverage.
This company has a vast network as well and offers discounts on many essential healthcare services. What makes Aetna ideal for travel nurses is its mobile insurance application. You can find all the information you need on the go.
Those travel nurses looking only for short term health insurance plans should consider HumanaOne’s short term plans. These plans are some of the most affordable in the country.
You can get this plan for a minimum of 30 days, which can be helpful for covering the days you’re off duty.
Even if you want coverage for the whole year, HumanaOne’s rates are competitive. It’s the third biggest insurance provider in the country, so you can expect expansive coverage in all 50 states.
HumanaOne offers both HMO and PPO, but their HMO may be too limited for a travel nurse. Even if you’re working in nearby states or the same state, you should go for their PPO. If money is not an issue, you may even want to try the indemnity plans, which give you a lot more freedom.
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Blue Cross Blue Shield provides healthcare plans with coverage in all 50 states, which makes it a good health insurance company for travel nurses. However, Blue Cross Blue Shield works more locally as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, so do your homework as to how it will work out when you move across state lines for nursing assignments.
You can also benefit from Blue365 discounts on health and wellness products, which as a travel nurse, you’ll need a lot of. This is also a good choice if you need specialty care due to some chronic conditions or serious illnesses.
So if you’re in one of these states and don’t get stationed out of state very often, this could be your choice. Their premiums are quite affordable, especially if you go for an HMO.
For instance, they have the largest HMO network in California, so no matter where you are in the Golden State, you’ll be able to find an in-network doctor through your PCP.
Even if you are out of the coverage state, you’ll receive coverage for emergency and urgent care through Kaiser Permanente.
Molina Healthcare works in over eighteen states, with partial coverage in a few of them. It’s still one of the top ten health insurance providers in the countries. Its plans will save you quite some money as almost all plans involve no co-pays.
It’s the best preventive health insurance provider that covers some of the essential services, at least in the states its network is present.
So as you grow old, you can continue to stay on their coverage and enjoy the many wellness and preventive perks they offer.
See Related: Best Travel Credit Cards
Health Insurance for Travel Nurses FAQs
Do Travel Nurses Qualify for Subsidies for Private Health Insurance?
Generally, no. There aren’t any subsidies for private health insurance for healthcare workers. However, it may vary by the health insurance provider.
Also, you may be eligible for some federal assistance depending on your income as a travel nurse, which will ultimately lower your premium.
You may also be ineligible for Medicaid as your travel nurse salary might be higher than the low-income qualification threshold. So at the end of the day, you pay the same as any other individual for private health insurance.
Do Nurses Receive Healthcare Coverage?
Most registered nurses are eligible for getting healthcare coverage by their employer’s insurance provider. However, they do contribute to the premium.
Similarly, travel nurses can also get coverage through the agency they are registered with and pay premiums through their wages.
Can I Get Private Insurance in Addition to Agency Health Insurance?
You can get private health insurance in addition to the insurance plan provided by your agency, but that will up the cost.
The best solution is to go for short term private plans for periods when you might not have agency coverage, for example, vacation days or transit days between assignments.
Health insurance while traveling is absolutely essential because you never know when you might need medical help.
The best health insurance for travel nurses is the one that provides good coverage without any gaps and outrageous costs. If your agency provides such a plan, it would be best to stick with that and save money.
Otherwise, choose from one of the top private health insurance providers.
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