As we all know, health insurance is a blast. Thinking about things like insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, out-of-pocket max, and GAP exceptions just warm the heart. It’s a trigger word for many of us and something that often feels expensive, non-inclusive, not worth it even… but it’s necessary, right?
We are a travel nurse family with two children; one of them has a preexisting condition. So health benefits matter to us. As much as I like to complain about health insurance, it is really important. Before we decided to travel as a nurse, we had to find out more about how it all would work. Or would it work? So, we are not surprised that we often get questions about health insurance on the road.
So how does it work?
As a travel nurse, you can either look into private health insurance or take the insurance benefits your agency has to offer.
Pros and cons of private health insurance:
The pros of private health insurance are that it doesn’t lapse if you take time off between contracts, and it doesn’t change if you switch agencies. The cost will vary, but there are often affordable options. However, the biggest con of this is whether or not you qualify for it. Because of the preexisting condition in our family, we do not qualify for private health insurance.
This leads me to option two: take the health insurance your agency has to offer.
As you choose an agency you want to work with, these are important questions to ask:
- What are their health benefits like?
- How long do I have to wait before my benefits start? (Some start on day 1, others after a certain number of days, or on the 1st of the next month)
- How much do the benefits cost?
We carefully selected travel agencies to ensure we found one that would meet our health insurance needs.
Pros of taking health insurance from your agency:
You can have preexisting conditions, and chances are, the coverage is pretty good. Most companies can keep your benefits between contracts if you sign a contract with the same agency prior to the current contract end date.
Cons of taking health insurance from your agency:
Cons are that it is likely to be pretty expensive. We are currently spending $250+ per week.
Even though it is expensive, we have been very pleased with our coverage, especially with our current agency. We have stayed with one agency for a year now, and the health benefits are a big reason why. In fact, we feel like our current benefits cover prescriptions, specialist visits, testing, etc., far better than when we had full-time hospital benefits. For example, we often pay a $20 co-pay and never see another bill. Or medications that used to cost $150+ per month now cost $14. We also find that we can see doctors and specialists all over the country that are fully covered by our insurance.
Don’t get me wrong; we are envious of the single nurses out there that can get private insurance or spend a fraction of what we do for agency benefits. But as a traveling family that needs to make sure our kids have the healthcare they need, we have been very satisfied.
After we sign a contract, we start to ask ourselves what appointments we may need in the next few months. That way, if there is a 2-3 month delay for an appointment, we can still make it happen before we leave town. We take our expensive health insurance, and we use it! We see the specialists we need to see, go to preventive health and wellness appointments, get the medications we need, go to the dentists, get eye exams…anything.
The big takeaway here is that it works! Even as a family of four. Even with preexisting conditions. Even as we embark on one crazy adventure after another, we have insurance that covers our entire family, even between contracts, and we are grateful for that!
We hope you found this article helpful. Have you chosen a different method for health insurance as a travel nurse? Comment any tips or ideas you may have for fellow travel nurses.