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Health Insurance for Full-Time Contract Nurses

Healthcare Jobs

If you’re a contract or per diem nurse, you’ll likely have to navigate getting health insurance. Having health insurance as a contract worker can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ll have financial protection in the event of health emergencies. 

Whether you’re paying out of pocket for prescriptions or receiving treatment for more serious illnesses, having health insurance can prevent you from depleting your savings, taking out a loan or line of credit, or—in the worst-case scenario—being unable to receive treatment because of financial reasons.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about health insurance for contract workers: Do registered nurses get good health insurance? Do nurses get free health insurance? Do travel nurses get health insurance? Also, learn how much it costs to get contract insurance and the best health insurance options. 

What Is a Contract Nurse?

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A contract nurse is a health care professional who completes all the duties and responsibilities of a nurse on a contract basis rather than being employed full-time at a specific organization. 

As a contract nurse, you may work back-to-back contracts at the same facility or opt for a break between contracts. You may also choose to work for various facilities. Regardless, you have greater flexibility than full-time employees typically do. 

Do Contract Nurses Get Health Insurance?

Generally, contract nurses do not receive health insurance as an employee benefit from hospitals and other healthcare facilities, as they are not formally employed and likely do not have employee benefits. 

However, as a contract nurse, you may have health insurance if it is provided by a contracting nursing agency—although the payments may be deducted from your weekly stipend. If you signed your contract through an agency, ask your direct contact if this is a benefit available to you. Please note, however, that you may only have access to these insurance benefits for the dates of your contract—so if you have time in between contracts, you may not be insured for this period. 

Additionally, many contract nurses opt to get their own health insurance as it is generally easier to manage from an administrative perspective than handling multiple insurance policies based on one’s employment contract and also as it would prevent gaps in coverage. 

How Much Do Contract Nurses Pay for Health Insurance?

The cost of health insurance for contract nurses depends on the type of insurance they opt for:  agency or private health insurance. 

Agency Health Insurance

  • The cost varies based on the agency’s arrangement with the health insurance provider.
  • On average, contract travel nurses may see $100 – $150 deducted from their weekly stipend for basic medical coverage and an additional $7+ for dental and vision coverage.

Private Health Insurance

  • Short-term health insurance:
    • It covers you for a specific period.
    • Available plans start from as little as $55 per month, although amounts vary based on zip code, age, gender, health status, etc.
  • Individual and family health insurance:
    • The cost varies depending on age, state, and tiers:
      • Age: Many providers will charge a monthly range between $225 to $770 per person, with younger clients costing less.
      • State: The average cost of a monthly health insurance premium is $541 per month, but this varies greatly depending on the state.
      • Tiers: Some providers may offer basic coverage for approximately $200 monthly, while more comprehensive coverage can cost closer to $400.

Best Health Insurance for Contract Nurses

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The best health insurance for contract nurses depends on the duration of the contract and your personal specifications. Here are the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed decision:

Short-Term Health Insurance

Pros:

  • It is affordable and can be tailored to one’s specific needs.
  • You can choose how long you need the coverage.
  • There is no enrollment period; most companies offer immediate coverage.
  • It is a suitable option if you are in between contracts.

Cons:

  • It offers basic and limited coverage.
  • It often does not cover individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • It does not have options to cover families.

In conclusion, short-term health insurance is best for contract nurses with short or irregular contracts, nurses in between contracts, nurses who are still testing out contract nursing, and travel nurses. It is a good option for contract nurses who cannot afford their health insurance premiums.

Agency Health Insurance

Pros:

  • It is generally more affordable as the agency pays a portion of your insurance.
  • It saves you the stress of looking for and negotiating healthcare plans.
  • Most agency plans offer coverage from day one of signing up.

Cons:

  • Plans are often only valid for the duration of your contract.
  • When you need to switch between agencies, your deductibles will be reset and may be costly depending on how many times you switch.
  • Switching agencies may also result in coverage gaps.

In conclusion, agency health insurance is best for contract nurses with long-term contracts or prospects with agencies. It’s also a good option for individuals with few or no specific medical needs, as plans are usually standard.

Private Health Insurance

Pros:

  • Coverage is all year round without any gaps.
  • It provides options for various contracts from different agencies and a plan tailored to your medical needs.

Cons:

  • It is generally more expensive than all the other options.
  • Plans may still be limited depending on the premium paid.
  • Not all insurance providers provide coverage in every state.

In conclusion, private health insurance is best for individuals with pre-existing conditions, individuals with families, and those with the earning capacity to afford private health insurance premiums.

Popular private health insurance providers include Aetna (affordable); Safetywing (great for international travel nurses); Nurse Service Organization (tailored for nurses); Oscar Health (value plans); Kaiser Permanente & United Healthcare (Medicare Advantage Plans).

Should Contract Nurses Get Malpractice Insurance?

Medical malpractice insurance is a type of liability insurance that protects licensed medical professionals—such as nurses—in the event of a malpractice lawsuit. 

Most medical employers offer medical malpractice insurance to nurses. However, contract nurses especially are advised to get liability insurance because agencies generally do not provide malpractice insurance for contract workers. If you are a contract nurse, legally, you are an independent contractor responsible for obtaining malpractice insurance. 

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