By The Gypsy Nurse Staff

July 5, 2019

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Ask A Travel Nurse: Insurance Between Contracts

Gypsy,

I’ll be ending my travel nurse contract soon and I’m planning to take time off between contracts.  What do you do for insurance between contracts?  COBRA is so expensive.

Thanks!
Jackie, RN

Jackie,

Insurance worries are a common issue among travel nurses. Most travel nurse contracts will include insurance but there is always the worry about insurance between contracts. Personally, I choose to carry private insurance.  I tend to work with multiple different travel nursing agencies and prefer not to have to worry about switching insurances with employment.

COBRA

COBRA is certainly an option for insurance coverage between contract but it can be expensive. PANTravelers.org offers the following advice for maintaining health insurance coverage between contracts.

  • You then have 60 days from the end of your contract (or 60 days from the letter’s date) to positively select COBRA coverage.
  • After you elect coverage (no reason not to), you have 45 days to pay the premium.
  • This gives you an effective minimum of 105 days (three and a half months) of insurance coverage without paying a cent.

So what does this mean? It means that you are covered by your agency’s insurance for well over three months after the contract ends if you select COBRA coverage at the last moment. And there are no consequences from not paying the premium three months later other than your insurance coverage will be cancelled retroactively back to when your contract ended. If you had no events during this period that required insurance, you have just received a free ride! And if any events do occur, they would have to add up to more than $1,000 (your minimum likely premium during this period) to be worth paying the premium. This is an insurance company nightmare.  Clients fully covered but electing to pay only if the insurance benefits are more than the cost of premiums.

There is one possible glitch – you want to ensure this strategy works in the worst possible scenario. If you are incapacitated (think unconscious or major trauma) during this period, you may not be able to make the COBRA election or pay the premium. So you should give clear instructions to a family member on what to do just in case with the appropriate forms. Otherwise, your medical bills will not be covered and that would be a real catastrophe!

PANTravelers.org

Insurance Recommendations

There are always new discussions on our Travel Nurse Network Facebook group. Here is one discussing private health insurance that might be helpful. Another post of interest is one discussing gaps in employment between contracts. I hope that this has addressed your question.


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