Health Insurance for RV Nomads

Being self employed and working out of your home is a dream for many of us.  Having internet access makes this possible for a lot of people.  Wifi coverage is available in metropolitan areas and satellite technology is available for those areas not covered by the traditional internet providers.  This allows anyone to live in an RV and run their business literally anywhere in the country.

This provides some unique challenges.  One major one is finding health insurance.  We live in a country that regulates the health insurance industry on a state by state basis.  The portability of health coverage can be restricted and limited.

Currently, there is no one carrier that can offer a health plan that provides HMO coverage for all 50 states.  Normally, HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) coverage provides the most comprehensive coverage at the best price, but normally limits access to specific providers and hospital except in an emergency.

To get around this issue, PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations) plans and Indemnity plans are available.  These type of plans offer coverage that are not as restrictive as HMOs.

The first item on the RV Nomad’s agenda would be to have a permanent or local address when looking to purchase a policy.  This can be accomplished by getting a PO Box at the UPS store, Mailboxes, Etc or using your home address.  What is important is in what state and your purchase your policy.

Different states have different medical costs and regulations.  You need to shop around and find what a similar plan would cost in the state you want to have as the permanent address.  This can be accomplished online by using your favorite search engine and looking for health insurance.

Note:  the HealthCare Reform Act will require all US citizens to have health coverage.  This will come into effect on January 1, 2014.  When this comes into effect, health coverage will be costing more.  This is due to mandated benefits and guaranteed issue.  Depending on your circumstances, you may want to look at quotes for coverage effective before January 1, 2014 and those that become effective on January 1, 2014.  Getting a policy sooner if you qualify may save some money.

The easiest way to do your comparison shopping is to select a PPO Plan with a $1000 or $5000 deductible and $20 or $30 copays and 20% coinsurance.  Most carriers will have a plan close to this benefit configuration.

With the selected plan, look at coverage costs in several states you may want to purchase your coverage in.  Also look for carriers that offer coverage in each state.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield has a national PPO network.  Aetna, UnitedHealth, Cigna and Humana are also national carriers that can offer nation wide PPO coverage.

If you find this process overwhelming, contact a Broker that specializes in individual health insurance.  The first place to start is with the agent you get your other insurance coverage from.  If they do not offer health insurance, they will know someone to recommend.  Be sure and tell them you are looking for coverage that will accommodate your living in different parts of the country.

One benefit from the Health Care Reform Legislation is preventive services are now covered with no cost to the member.  This means you can get your annual physical done at no cost to you.  This should be done as soon as the coverage becomes effective.

One of the major concerns is the cost of coverage.  You need now is to figure out how much you can afford to pay out of pocket vs what you pay in premium.  A good Broker can help with this calculation.

What is key is to know how much medical services are you going to need to purchase for the year.  If you are healthy, then a higher deductible plan and higher coinsurance percentage will lower your premium.  If you know you are going to need services done in the next year, then estimate the cost of the service and see if a lower deductible and coinsurance percentage and corresponding higher premium will be right for you.

Another consideration is prescription drug coverage.  Make sure you do not pay for extra coverage that will not be used.  If you have no ongoing prescriptions, then a high copay or deductible plan would suffice in emergencies.  On the other hand, if you have a specialty medication that is needed, make sure the coverage can reduce the financial burden of the drug cost.

Finally, if you are running your business from an RV and there are two of you involved, look into getting coverage as a business.  Or, hire your spouse to do work as an employee.  Consult your tax professional to make sure you have the correct forms and reporting requirements in place.  There are many tax benefits for small businesses including the ability to include your health care premiums as a business expense.  This can be an advantage over paying for coverage as an individual.

Health care reform is moving the country to having everyone covered by some type of health care insurance.  This is a positive development.  Don’t ignore this situation.  The states will be providing ongoing information as we move closer to 2014.  Depending on your situation, subsidies may be available to you.

 

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