Ask a Travel Nurse: What about insurance and taxes?

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Insurance PolicyAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

I am currently looking into the possibility of taking my family on the road and doing some travel nursing. However, I have major reservations when it comes to finding health insurance and understanding the whole picture of taxes. We currently own our home, and I am not following what is the best way to go about either keeping our house or selling it? I would love to also invest in a camper and travel that way, versus taking the housing offered by agencies. Can you help this lost nurse in attempting to make the muddy water slightly clearer?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

I don’t know if you were speaking of obtaining private insurance or going with the company’s provided insurance. Many companies do offer family coverage, but it will be something for which you pay extra. Before looking for assignments with any particular company, since insurance is a key factor for you, ask the company to send you details of their health coverage. Often, this will be as simple as having a recruiter send a PDF file to your email. Be sure to mention that you will be seeking family coverage so that they include that information. If the coverage seems to be what you require, then ask your recruiter what you would be looking at in a monthly premium.

Probably the best way to keep continuous coverage (without any gaps between assignments) is by obtaining private health insurance. For this, there will be many options out there, but it will take some time online doing some research for what best suits your needs. You can also check out the travel nursing forums to see if anyone has any recommendations. A few good travel nurse forums can be found at ultimatenurse.com, allnurses.com, and the Delphi forum for traveling professionals (go to delphiforums.com, look for the box on the right that says “Explore existing forums”, type in “travel nursing” and the top result is a group called Travel Nurses and Therapists with over half a million members). Pan Travelers is also another good site with a forum as well as Healthcare Travelbook (healthcaretravelbook.com), which is a sort of Facebook style place for travelers.

I have had both private and company healthcare plans, but it has been awhile since I’ve had private, so the best advice I can give you there is the forums or just some online searching.

As far as selling your home, that will be a personal decision, but there are advantages to owning as well as being free from a mortgage payment. If you continue to own your home, you will most likely be duplicating your expenses on the road, which should entitle you to participate in a company’s tax advantage program. This is based on you maintaining a “tax home”. To read up on this, visit Joseph Smith’s site at traveltax.com. Joseph was a traveler and is now an enrolled agent with the IRS…sort of a next-level, tax guru, if you will 🙂  His page here (http://traveltax.com/html/TaxEdTravelling.html) is in my opinion, REQUIRED reading for any traveling healthcare professional.

You can also rent your house and have someone else pay off your mortgage. I turned my condo in Ohio into a rental, but then it becomes a business asset and will probably no longer establish a “tax home” for you. Just be sure you understand the definition of “tax home” and do actually have one if you participate in any company’s tax advantage program. Again, Joseph Smith is really the BEST resource for this info and some time spent on his site will hopefully enlighten you on all things taxes. Also, his office is very willing to answer questions by email or phone.

As far as camper travel, that is certainly an option. But again, it will require some online time and forum time researching the options. There are people far more qualified to answer RV questions than I. Type “travel nursing RV” into any search engine and you can find many articles and forum posts on this type of travel.

I hope this helps get you started and I always offer to help anyone by setting them up with the recruiters I use and trust. Just send me all your contact info (full name, best email and phone number to reach you) to david@travelnursesbible.com.

Also feel free to email me there with any other questions 🙂

David

david@travelnursesbible.com

First time bonus!

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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