How Does Travel Nursing Health Insurance Work

WRITTEN BY: Craig Sturgill


Health insurance and travel nursing can be confusing processes to understand. Since travel nurses fill the staffing needs of hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country, and have no natural home base, obtaining insurance isn’t as simple as it would be with a permanent position within a hospital. We’re here to help fill in the gaps and answer your questions regarding how your travel nursing position works with health insurance and how to protect your health while on the road. 

Health insurance options for travel nurses 

Just because you’re a travel nurse doesn’t mean you should have to go without health Insurance coverage. Staff nurses typically get health Insurance directly through the facility or hospital where they’re employed. 

But, travel nurses may find obtaining insurance a bit more complicated. Short-term contracted employees aren’t privy to hospital health coverage, so travel nurses must rely on options like insurance through an agency or private insurance.

Short-term health insurance

One health coverage option for those who travel as nurses is short-term health insurance. Typically, these insurance policies are far less expensive than health insurance via the ACA Marketplace but may not be as comprehensive in coverage. This coverage is an excellent option for travel nurses who may be switching agencies, can’t afford insurance premiums, or are in-between employment. 

One thing to be aware of with this policy is that they can deny coverage if you have specific pre-existing health conditions. It may decide not to cover certain health services, even if it doesn’t necessarily pertain to your pre-existing condition. 

Private health Insurance – ACA

Individuals typically buy private health coverage through private insurance carriers. Travel nurses tend to get insurance through COBRA. Private health insurance tends to be more expensive than insurance through an agency but is generally a good fit for travel nurses who:

  • Has a family dependent on health insurance
  • Takes time off in between contracts
  • Switches between agencies
  • Has medical requirements not covered through agency insurance

Agency-provided health insurance

Agency health coverage is health insurance offered through insurance agencies. This provides many benefits to traveling nurses, including the following:

  • Agencies help you understand your policies in detail
  • Mental health services are covered, and there are typically more services available 
  • Agency Insurance tends to be more affordable
  • Agencies take the shopping out of the process for you

Agency insurance is an excellent way for travel nurses to obtain and keep health coverage without enrolling with another company or applying for private health insurance. 

Short-term health insurance: Guide for traveling nurses

Short-term health coverage is an excellent option for travel nurses. Typically, these healthcare policies cover your health needs for specific periods, which is beneficial if you work with one facility or hospital for several months. 


Short-term health plans are generally more affordable than other plans and can be suited and customized for your specific healthcare needs. This insurance can also be tailored for as long as you need health coverage, which works well for those travel nurses with shorter or longer assignments than planned. 


Short-term plans can deny health coverage if you have pre-existing conditions. These plans can also deny coverage of some essential health coverage benefits. Always understand your policy before buying it to ensure you have the necessary coverage. 

Private health insurance: Guide for traveling nurses

Private health insurance may be a good option for travel nurses with dependents needing health coverage or health issues that may warrant specific health coverage. 


Private health insurance plans through reputable insurance companies may be great for traveling nurses. If using preferred health providers, you should be able to plan on annual physicals each year with ease and decent deductibles. 

These plans offer policyholders peace of mind in knowing they won’t face surprises with what’s covered and what isn’t. They benefit nurses with pre-existing conditions that an agency policy won’t cover.  


Where there are pros, there also tend to be cons involved. Just because a travel nurse has private health insurance, it doesn’t ensure that the same coverage will be provided throughout all 50 states. Not all plans are portable, and as someone who travels for a living, you’ll find portability is essential. 

Private health insurance also tends to be far more expensive than insurance through an agency. This insurance can end up being near twice the cost of agency-provided insurance. And perhaps one of the biggest cons of private insurance is the insurance gaps in coverage. 

Travel nurse contracts can begin and end with weird timeframes, and some insurance companies have particular rules regarding coverage. Sometimes your health coverage could start on your first day on a job contract, but some health insurance coverages won’t begin until the 15th day of the month. Some insurance companies will have your coverage end on the last day of your contract, while others may have you finish the entire month of coverage. 

Agency-provided health insurance: Guide for traveling nurses 

Since travel nurses aren’t permanent hospital employees, they’re contracted with agencies and work specific amounts of weeks or months in a facility or hospital, then move to another assignment in a different location. 


A good majority of nursing agencies offer health insurance coverage to employees. And if you find an agency that offers this insurance, it’s a significant benefit. You won’t need to shop around like you would for private insurance, as the agency typically provides a plan to all employees. 


Coverage gaps are one of the most significant cons of accepting an agency health insurance policy. Some agencies’ policies start right away, while others don’t. Some won’t take any effect until well into a month of a job assignment, leaving nurses without insurance for a month. 

Something else to consider when accepting insurance through an agency is that your deductible amounts can change if you’re working between multiple agencies. Travel nurses commonly work between agencies, as it can easily optimize your pay. Suppose you must pay a $1,000 deductible to utilize out-of-network healthcare providers with the first agency, and you only need to pay a $500 deductible towards your dual agency. 

In that case, you won’t see your money back from your initial $1,000 deductible. Lastly, if you’re terminated while working for an agency, you won’t have health coverage since your health insurance is tied directly through the agency.


How does health insurance work with travel nursing?

Health insurance is still attainable even if you’re a travel nurse. You can obtain insurance through a private insurer or an agency or find short-term health insurance. 

Do travel nurses get insurance benefits?

The agency with which travel nurses are contracted may provide them access to insurance benefits. However, healthcare facilities or hospitals do not directly employ travel nurses, so they will not receive insurance benefits directly from a hospital.

Which state pays travel nurses the most?

California is known to pay travel nurses the most throughout the country. Annually travel nurses can make an average of $106,905 annually in California and even more in northern California. 

What is the best state for travel nursing?

The best state for travel nursing is Massachusetts. The state boasts Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the top American hospitals, with lots to see in entertainment, such as Fenway Park, and lots of history. Nurses can make an average of $2,250 per week. 

Does travel RNS get benefits?

Travel RNs can get traditional benefits in most cases, such as dental, life, and health insurance, travel reimbursements, and sometimes free housing. When employed with a travel nursing agency, these benefits are often included in contracts. 

Is insurance required for travel nurses?

Health insurance isn’t a requirement for travel nurses, but it’s an excellent idea to have some form of protection. Travel nurses can obtain health coverage through an agency or private forms of insurance. 

Get Health Insurance rates for traveling nurses 

Everyone has different requirements when it comes to necessary health insurance. Whether you are just beginning to research health insurance with travel nursing or know precisely the direction you want to go, our agents are here to help assist you with each step. Obtain your quote online, or call us, and we can find affordable rates with the insurance coverage you need to keep you safe and healthy while traveling!

Related Content