Maintaining Health Insurance as a Travel Nurse


Health insurance can be confusing and frustrating for everyone, especially with a Federal Mandate to have insurance.  As a travel nurse it can be even more of a challenge.  At this time with everything being uncertain, I would say to do your research before you accept an assignment.

Some travel nurse companies offer insurance only while on assignment with those plans varying from company to company. If you require much health insurance use, the plans they offer should be an important aspect of your company selection.Health-insurance

Things to consider:

  • Health insurance may be offered as follows:
    • Day one of assignment or
    • Starting on 1st of the month or
    • After 30 days with company
    • May cease on last day of assignment
    • Or could continue to end of month
  • Changing your staffing company could mean changing insurance company and plan.
  • You may be COBRA eligible after assignment but at much higher rate.
  • government plans may be available but at this time that seems an unstable choice.

Given this information I would say it is best to use one or two agencies that provide day one benefits.  Consider also one that extends coverage to the last day of the month that your assignment ends.  You could then plan to end your assignments within the first few weeks of a month and have your next assignment begin before the end of the month.

There may be several options for insurance coverage available for traveling nurses.  Making that choice can be overwhelming so discuss the details with your recruiter.

Another Option is Personal Policy

Sometimes the agency policy will not be an option for you for several reasons.

  • The insurance provided may be very basic coverage
  • The cost may be alot to add a spouse or child.
  • If you change agencies from assignment to assignment you have to change insurance companies/policies each time.
  • Each company has their own requirements
    • for waiting periods
    • how long between assignments you can take off
    • too much paperwork to keep up with between assignments
  • Not all companies are created equal and not all offer insurance.

Do your research because you find better coverage for far less money on our own. Make sure that company will cover you as you move from assignemt to assignment across the country. There are companies that ar in all 50 states.  I personaly have Tricarefor Life through the military which covers me in any state.  I know that Ble Cross Blue Shield is also in all 50 states.  You need to make phone calls to verify with the changing political environment that might change.

Some agencies offer a reimbursement for you to provide your own insurance.  I would check to see if this is an option for you and how much the reimbursement would be.  It might be worth it to not have to hassle with changing with each asignment.

Insurance costs are rising and the co-pay can be prohibitive.  Do your homework and find what works for  you and your family.

Agency Insurance Benefits

If you only need to insure yourself,  agency insurance might be the best option.  If you plan to stick with only one agency that makes it less stressful and confusing.  Just know that not all agencies provide coverage. If it is important to you to have agency provided insurance, make sure you research companies that offer insurance.  Ask questions:

  • How much does the company pay and how much is your portion?
  • How long is the wait period before coverage begins?  (assignments are generally only 13 weeks so you stand a chance to not have coverage for much of your assignment.)
  • Does a break in coverage occur as your assignment changes.?
  • What is the minimum time offf between assignments and still be covered?
  • What does the plan cover?
  • What does the plan not cover?
  • Can you add a spouse and/or dependents? What is cost if allowed?

Since implementation of ACA, many companies have changed their insurance benefits and may not offer it at all.  Some recruiters may still be confused by all the changes so make sure to speak with the benefits specialist to and ask questions.  Ask questions until you understand enough to make an educated decision for your situation.

Medical Cost Sharing Program

I know people who like this option.  Most are recognized as acceptable coverage for the federal mandate. Again you will want to do your research.  This option will help to keep cost down. Each program has different requirements for membership so find the one where you will be accepted.

Take away

Each individual/family has to work out for themselves since everybody’s needs are so different. What works one may not work at all for someone else. Options can vary greatly but here are a few tips that work in all situations:

  • Ask a lot of questions! Make sure you understand what each agency you are considering has to offer in terms of health insurance and/or reimbursement benefits.
  • Decide what your needs are.
    • Do you need major medical or extensive coverage?
    • Is it just you or do you have a spouse and or dependents?
    • Do you plan to work with one agency or change agencies with each assignment?
  • Research several different insurance providers and explain your circumstances to see what they  offer.
  • Do your due diligence and research all of your options
  • Compare the options to find insurance that best fits your needs.

It be patient and diligent and you will figure out what works best for you.


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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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