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How to Choose the Best Health Insurance for Travel Nurses

May Baker
March 7, 2022

Health insurance as a travel nurse can be complicated. Nurses working in permanent positions won’t have the same concerns as travel nurses: What if you take time off between assignments? Does your coverage follow you from state to state? Health insurance is not one-size-fits-all. And just because a travel nursing agency offers health insurance, doesn’t mean it's the best option for you and your family. Let’s break down the important aspects and considerations to look for with health insurance for travel nurses so you can make the most informed decision.

The Best Health Insurance for Travel Nurses

Not all travel nursing agency insurance is created equal. There isn’t such a thing as the “best” insurance. It’s about what’s best for you. Choosing an agency’s travel nurse insurance will make life simpler as there will only be a few options to choose from. It will also be more affordable than private health insurance as the agency will cover part of the cost.

Options for health insurance for travel nurses.

Here are some considerations when reviewing your agency’s travel nurse health insurance options:

Day-one Coverage

While this may seem standard, it isn’t. It has become more common over time for agencies to offer insurance starting day one, but some agencies may still have a waiting period.

Vision and Dental

Again, not a requirement for agencies. Even if an agency offers this coverage, make sure to review the terms such as the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum to ensure it’s a worthwhile plan.

Health Savings Account (HSA)

If you select a high-deductible health plan you may be eligible for an HSA which allows you to contribute money into an account to cover health-related costs. There are many benefits to these accounts: The money you contribute isn’t taxed, it rolls over year to year, and you can gain interest, which also isn’t taxed. HSA’s cover lots of medical expenses from lactation supplies to chiropractor visits.

Accident coverage

This supplemental coverage is in addition to a major medical plan. Along with covering medical costs, it also helps pay for a mortgage, rent, or other bills. Travel nurses who are thrill-seekers on their assignments should ask about this type of coverage.

The Downside of Travel Nurse Insurance Through an Agency

Travel nurses rarely stay with the same agency long-term. You may be itching for a job in Hawaii where your current agency doesn’t place travel nurses. Switching between agencies is normal, but comes with a headache. Choosing a new agency will likely come with a change in the insurer, which could pose a problem if you need to see a specific provider that isn’t in-network or require a costly medication that isn’t covered by their plans. Luckly, Advantis Medical staffs for travel nursing jobs across the United States. So whether it’s Hawaii or Atlanta, we have positions available.

Coverage between assignments

Many nurses take long breaks before embarking on their next adventure (flexibility is one of the best perks!) but coverage will only last for so long. Some agency coverage will end the day after the last shift worked unless a new contract is solidified prior. Others may extend out a few weeks.  

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, better known as COBRA, is a temporary extension of health coverage that can be elected when coverage is lost. This is an option to bridge the gap if taking time off between assignments but often comes with a high price tag.

Travel nurses without dependents and who have no health conditions requiring medications or maintenance may elect to take a chance without any coverage during their time off. This can be a risky game to play as a medical emergency can strike at any time (nurses know this all too well).  

One last consideration is the instance in which you did not prepare for lost coverage. Canceled contracts and last-minute terminations happen and can leave you unprepared and vulnerable if your travel nurse agency insurance is suddenly gone.  

Private Health Insurance Options

Private health insurance through networks such as Cigna or United Healthcare may be the best option for travel nurses especially if they have dependents or their own health conditions that require specific coverage. A PPO plan will offer the most flexibility and freedom to allow nurses to choose their providers and have coverage that follows them from state to state without any gaps. These plans will likely be more costly than agency-provided insurance, but the peace of mind may be worth it.

The health insurance marketplace takes the stress out of choosing the best private option and there is no risk of being denied as pre-existing conditions must be covered according to the Affordable Care Act. The downside to this option is that open enrollment only occurs at the end of the year for coverage in the following year. Also, you can’t change your coverage or add dependents unless you have a qualifying life event (marriage, divorce, and childbirth are a few examples).

Questions to Narrow Down Health Insurance For Travel Nurses

Speaking with your recruiter as well as a reputable insurance broker is the best way to compare your options and choose the best coverage. Answer the following questions to help decide which type of health insurance you need.  

  • Do you have a pre-existing condition?
  • Do you require frequent specialist visits or expensive medications?
  • Do you have a family that also requires coverage?
  • Are dental and vision benefits a necessity?
  • Are you generally healthy and do not take any prescribed medications?
  • Do you prefer cheaper coverage over a lower deductible?

Advantis Medical understands that travel nurses must take care of themselves first before they can care for others, that’s why we offer medical, dental, and vision insurance. Connect with one of our helpful recruiters today to learn more about our coverage options as well as other traveler benefits.

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