I receive many questions about health insurance as a traveling nurse practitioner so I thought it deserved its own post. As a locum tenens provider, you have two main options to obtain health insurance (besides getting it through your spouse).
If you are working with a 1099 agency then you will have to purchase private health insurance. These plans can be costly, sometimes $300-400+ each month. The good thing is you can deduct these premiums on your taxes at the end of the year. The bad thing is that both premiums and deductibles are high.
If you choose to work through a W2 agency, then these agencies will provide you with health insurance. They usually offer 3 insurances to choose from, each of them is affordable. For instance, now I am using health insurance from my W2 agency and I pay $34/week, so $136/month is not bad. This insurance plan allows me to find an in-network doctor in each state I am working in.
Another good thing about W2 agencies that provide health insurance is that if you stop working with them for up to 30 days, you are still covered under their plan. So this is nice for those of us that like to take breaks in between assignments or time off to travel abroad. You won’t lose coverage for taking a few weeks off. However, they will retroactively deduct payments on your upcoming pay checks.
As I alternate between W2 and 1099 agencies frequently, my health insurance also changes. As long as I provide “proof of loss” of insurance, I can enroll in a new plan mid-year.
I can’t tell you which option is better for you. This varies depending on your age, medical history, and preferred method of payment. For instance, a healthy 25 year old may opt for increased paid through a 1099 agency and less benefits; versus a 48 year old may prefer paying higher taxes with a W2 agency in order to have good health insurance.