Many travel nurses find it hard to make the right decision when it comes to their health insurance. There are multiple things to consider and questions to ask to make sure you are getting the plan best suited for your needs. At Nurse First, we want to make sure you are well-informed when choosing your health insurance. To make sure you are prepared, you may encounter five common obstacles and how to approach them.
So Many Options
Figuring out what is available for you is an important first step. There are many different health insurance plans, and it is important to know what you are getting into. We’ve broken down the account types and what they mean to help you determine which best suits your needs. Here are a few options for travel nurses:
- Agency-provided insurance is an ideal route if you do not want to worry about finding your own. In most cases, this insurance plan is a cheap option and your agency will handle a reasonable portion of your coverage.
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) gives you a network of preferred healthcare providers. Some of the preferred networks branch out over several states, but check with your insurance provider to make sure there are a few in the location of your next assignment.
- With the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan, you will need to pick a Primary Care Physician (PCP) and will require their referral for any specialist care. The referrals will be within your network, but all out-of-network costs will be paid out of pocket except in cases where there is a medical emergency.
- Point of Service (POS) insurance is a combination of the two aforementioned plans. You will still need a PCP and their referrals for specialist visits, but you have more access to out-of-network providers.
Each plan comes with different coverage, so thoroughly look at all of your options before deciding which one is the best for you.
Just as there are various options for health insurance, there are various types of coverage as well, and some are confined to specific locations. Not all locations will be covered by the same insurance plan as a travel nurse, especially if you have your own provider and do not stay with the same agency. Make sure to look at the details of your insurance coverage to determine if your next location is within the boundaries of your coverage. Does it cover enough of your expenses to make it worthwhile to stay? The coverage is also dependent on your specific plan, so talk through all scenarios with your insurance provider.
Gaps Between Assignments
When your current travel nurse assignment is coming to an end, there may be an extended period of time before your next assignment begins. Depending on your insurance, you may or may not be covered for that amount of time. Nurse First has a policy that allows our traveling nurses to remain on the NFTA insurance plan as long as they are already signed up for a new contract before the current assignment ending and the gap between assignments does not exceed 4 weeks. If the gap is longer than that, COBRA is another option we will address later on.
Not Enough Coverage
If you’ve decided to go outside of your agency’s health insurance, sometimes the best plan does not cover everything you need, and a little extra is required. Different insurance like vision and dental may be needed to cover teeth cleanings or scheduled eye exams. These insurance plans can be purchased through different brokers.
Lapsed Insurance of Changes In Need
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a program that provides a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated because of certain events (qualifying events). These include having a baby, loss of a dependent, reduction of work hours, and divorce. If your insurance lapses while you are between assignments, COBRA coverage may be able to fill in the gap until you can get back on a standard plan. This solution only lasts for a limited amount of time, and the coverage premium is usually more expensive. You can learn more about COBRA here.
There is always an option when it comes to being insured. Finding the right fit for you is important, and being well-informed and prepared is necessary. Overcome your insurance obstacles and make sure that you are covered!