HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS FOR TRAVEL HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS
Healthcare professionals are one of the few who understand the necessity for health insurance benefits. While as a staff healthcare professional’s insurance benefits are dependent on the facility, health insurance benefits for travel healthcare professionals varies from agency and private insurance.
TRAVEL HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL INSURANCE
There are many travel healthcare agencies that offer health insurance for travel nurses at reasonable rates and with reasonable coverages. However, most of the time you will only be covered while you are working on assignment. These gaps in coverage can bring anxiety and uncertainty for professionals who are unsure of their healthcare. It is important to understand the details in coverage provided by the agency and when the coverage is effective and not effective. These questions should be answered before you sign your contract.
Another thing to consider prior to signing a contract, prescription drug coverage is not a one size fits all in the health insurance industry. This is very true when your physician prescribes brand name medications. You have the right to request the company’s medical plan’s formulary list of covered medication prior to signing with the agency.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE: AGENCY VS PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS
AGENCY HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS ADVANTAGES
Travel healthcare agencies make finding health insurance on the road easy for you. If you are not the type of person who likes to research or be involved in finding your own health insurance, then you should consider using the agencies health insurance plan.
The agency’s health insurance coverage is often cheaper and sometimes the agency will cover a portion of the cost. In addition to the cost savings benefits, agencies have access to a boarder range of health insurance plans with more coverage than most private insurance plans.
One advantage to agencies offering more coverage is called “risk pooling.” Because agencies offer multiple health insurance benefits to numerous nurses, insurance companies are willing to offer more coverage when agencies employee and cover masses of nurses. This is common amongst insurance companies.
Questions you should considering asking prior to accepting and signing a contract with an agency should include:
- When does coverage begin?
- Who all has coverage?
- When does coverage end?
- How does in-network/out-of-network coverage apply to travel healthcare professionals?
- Are there any specific requirements and/or exclusions to coverage?
- Is the insured responsible for upfront costs for procedures/visits/treatments?
- Does spousal insurance negate eligibility of the travel healthcare professional from obtaining travel health insurance?
- Are there any one-time yearly exams that are covered for free (physical, etc)?
- Are there any specific requirements and/or exclusions to coverage?
AGENCY HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS DISADVANTAGES
There can be many disadvantages to accepting agency health insurance plans. Gaps in coverage tend to occur and unfortunately are very common. Many travel health care agencies will only provide coverage while you are on assignment. This means there can be gaps in coverage between assignments if you tend to work with more than one agency. In addition, not every agency’s health insurance coverage begins on day one of your assignment. Some agency health insurance plans don’t begin until after a month into the assignment or after an assignment is completed.
Another reason against accepting agency health insurance plans depends on your work history and limitations of employment. For example, if you go on vacation between assignments (like many of us do), then your insurance benefits will be terminated until you begin another assignment. If will be required to work continuously throughout the entire year in order to maintain health insurance coverage.
Deductibles are another hot topic among health insurance plans. If you plan to switch between companies, deductibles from one insurance plan will not carry over to another plan. This is something important to consider when considering agency health insurance coverage.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS ADVANTAGES
Private health insurance is a great option for travel healthcare professionals. There are no gaps of coverage giving professionals peace of mind when it comes to consistent health insurance benefits. If you tend to have anxiety or worry about maintaining health insurance coverage, then private health insurance may be the plan for you.
Private health insurance plans can be more pricey, but enable the insured to maintain coverage and continue to work with multiple travel healthcare agencies. Few agencies will provide additional pay if you are already insured. In addition, private health insurance provides freedom and flexibility to travel between assignments.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS FOR TRAVEL HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS
PREFERRED PROVIDER ORGANIZATION (PPO)
This health insurance option gives the insured an entire network of preferred health care providers with very few limitations. The Preferred provider organization insurance will pay a substantial portion of the bills; however, the total amount of coverage will depend on your individual plan.
This plan is great for travel healthcare professionals because many of the different states you will travel to will have different preferred networks. It’s a great idea to speak with your insurance company to make sure that there will be preferred providers in the area where you take your next assignment.
HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION (HMO)
A health maintenance organization health insurance plan requires the insured to pick a Primary Care Provider (PCP) and will be required to obtain referrals to see specialists within the HMO network. You will be required to pay all costs for healthcare providers outside of your network unless there is a true medical emergency.
This health insurance option is not great for travel healthcare professionals as your Primary Care Provider and his or her network will most likely be local to your home state.
POINT OF SERVICE INSURANCE (POS)
The point of service insurance plan is a hybrid between an HMO and PPO. You will be required to still maintain a Primary Care Physician who provides referrals. However, out-of-network providers can be more accessible. The network is bigger than an HMO, but sustainably smaller than an PPO. In addition, access to out-of-network providers will not cost anything additionally, but hybrid plans do cover a portion of these costs so you don’t have to pay the entire bill out of pocket.
Point of service plans can be cheaper than PPO plans; however, can have an increased deductible. These plans can also be very confusing between the various copays, deductible, and limitations. Lastly, after your doctor’s visit, it will often be the case that you will pay the full amount for your visit and then submit for reimbursement. This can take 3 to 6 months before you receive these monies back.
Point of service plans can be decent for travelers as you still maintain flexibility because the plan will cover some medical coverage. However, in most plans, you will have to reach a high annual deductible in order to start to receive coverage for out-of-network providers.