How do I deal with travel nursing health insurance?

Ask a Travel Nurse, Benefits and Pay, Travel Nursing

travel nurse at the doctorAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

Just need guidance on insurance coverage. Just found out not covered during my time off if I don’t sign with same company before end of assignment. Although I was told differently, how do others deal with this. I have md appts during my time off between assignments perfect time right? Now I learn won’t be covered unless I resign which won’t happen and new assignment doesn’t cover till new start date. I can’t afford cobra for 4 months. Please help with direction on how to do this. Thanks.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Hey Sean. You’ve discovered the reason that many travelers actually decline their company’s insurance and seek private insurance. For those of us who travel a few times a year or enjoy taking extended breaks between assignments, insurance becomes a big issue.

Insurance coverage with many companies can last through the end of the month when you complete an assignment (although some companies have even stopped doing this). There is no doubt that providing employees health insurance is one of a company’s largest expenses. Therefore, no company is going to continue your coverage if you are not actively working for them.

For me, I try to plan all my doctor visits while on assignment and make sure I use the mail order prescription program with my company so that I can have a three month medication supply sent to me just prior to ending an assignment. I also have a major medical plan with an insurance company that just covers major injuries or hospitalizations during my times not on assignment.

Unfortunately, today’s health options are not kind, or affordable, to independent contractors (which is essentially what we are). I don’t know what to tell you to do regarding your scheduled appointments, but you can certainly see the need for forethought on your next assignment. If you really need to see these docs, you might have to spring for a month of Cobra. Explain the situation to your doctor so that maybe they can give you med samples for anything you might require.

Also, make sure you get ANYTHING you are counting on from your assignment, in writing. When someone now says, “Well I think….”, my mind just cuts them off right then and there because chances are they have NO IDEA how it actually works. We work under contracts which often provide little protection for the travel nurse. However, they do serve the purpose of documenting what we should expect to receive as part of our assignment benefits. I’m sorry that this will have to be a live and learn situation, but seasoned travelers have walked in your same shoes.

If you don’t have many health problems, consider private insurance. Talk with many agents to find a carrier that will be right for you. Will take some time and effort, but you might just find a carrier that is better than any travel company insurance you have had.