New to travel nursing and traveling with small children.. Advice please! - page 2

Ever since I graduated nursing school traveling has been a dream for me. It never seemed to be the right time and life just seemed to happen making it seemingly even more impossible. Now, a husband and two small children later I... Read More

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    that sounds awesome swansonmail. good for you.

    yes health insurance is a big issue because it is so expensive to begin with and then if you don't have good coverage, yikes! COBRA can be great if you already have a good health insurance, but it would have run us 1200 or more a month. I ended up with American Mobile's insurance and paying for the family coverage (single coverage was free) but that was about $800 a month. and if you go to the doctor, there were a lot of things we still had to pay for after our deductible when we did go to the doctor. Also, COBRA is only for 18? or so months.

    The other issue to consider is each agency will offer their own insurance. you can take it and if you like it, then take their cobra. in my own case, my health insurance with my staff job before i started traveling was so great that even though the COBRA was expensive, in 20/20 hindsight it would have likely saved us money and annoyance, if we had stuck with it instead of going to the first agency's insurance, paying their cobra as we overlapped time to the next job and then starting theirs.... etc. some travel agencies have their insurance start on the 1st day or perhaps 1st or 15th of the month depending on the coverage you choose. Anyway, it's an expensive and sometimes annoying detail. And in our opinion it was really important to have continuous and good coverage on the road with the family.

    ps. cobra as described by the department of labor is this "COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end." in other words you pay to extend your health insurance by your previous employer but there is a maximum amount of time you can do this.

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    COBRA is simply a federal law that allows continuation of your employer insurance for as long as 18 months. The ex-employee must opt in, and the former employer has to notify you of your ability to do that. The costs are identical to what the employer is paying for your insurance plus a 2 percent administration fee for the employer to do the paperwork - you pay the premium to the employer and they pay the insurance company. However, it is common for much of the costs to be hidden from the employee - generally the employer pays the lion's share of the premium with a smaller deduction from your paycheck. There is generally sticker shock when you see the entire cost of your current group health plan.

    Insurance through agencies is usually no where near as good as your perm employer for good reasons. For one, agencies have to look carefully at per traveler cost and marketing (attracting travelers). They get a fixed hourly bill rate from hospitals for your services and out of that they have to pay your hourly, travel, per diem, housing. Good group health costs a lot - and would reduce your other compensation, to the point where they would not be competitive with other agencies - at least in apparent compensation (the kind you can put in the bank).

    If you find an agency with a decent and affordable plan, you can COBRA that plan should you switch agencies. You are paying for it no matter what, right? Doesn't matter if there is a hidden subsidy as a traveler, it is coming out of your pay either way. As far as the employer being required to offer COBRA, yes, if they have 20 FTE employees, they are required. You might be surprised how many agencies fall below this threshold though.

    When it is just a single traveler, you can cut corners as long as catastrophic cases are covered. You don't need zero copay doctor's visits. When you have a family, things are more complicated. Adding family members to full cost group health adds up fast. And it all falls on the shoulders of usually just one wage earner, and travelers do not have sick pay and PTO, making illness and injuries much more serious. If you are relatively young and have few or no pre-existing conditions, private insurance is substantially cheaper than group health plans. But you might want to consider extra disability and out of work insurance to cover your family.

    All that gets expensive, or requires a lot of savings to travel safely with a family. Again, if you are young, you can weigh the risks and go without. Obviously, insurance is not worth the money. Until you need it! Tough choices, weighing the fun and lifestyle of traveling against the security and stagnation of a staff position. Hard enough for the single traveler, but it really gets tough if you are responsible for a family.

    Assuming the ACA holds and is fully implemented in 2014, good insurance may be more accessible and affordable. No matter what, you have to consider if you can afford not to have health insurance.
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    We traveled for three years all over the country. It was great for us. We have 3 Kids. We also homechschooled. Kids really enjoyed it and there was so much to see and do with them. We choose the stipend and found our own housing , just short term. We had one townhome and the rest were houses.

    Good luck ! It will be awesome
    GleeGum likes this.
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    I wanted to add something else we did while on the road with our young son. We hung ribbon with thumb tacks in the living room and also bedrooms where we could easily hang up his artwork or projects with clothes pins. This was a low impact way to decorate and display his work.

    Hope your plans are going well, OP!
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    That's a great idea! We are finishing our first assignment in Baltimore in about a month and so far it has been the experience of a lifetime! We are so glad that we took the leap and did it. We're starting to look for where to go next. Did you go to California at all? That seems to be the place to go. If so, what was your experience like and any particular areas you would/wouldn't recommend?
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    Yes, we went to Cali and LOVED it. San Diego was alright but not my fav. Loved Stanford, Sacramento, Central Coast. I did not go inland except for Sacramento. And can we talk about ratios and breaks? how refreshing. still worked hard but not insane burnout like NY. Let me know if you need a great recruiter to get you there. I have 2.

    Btw, Cali license takes time.
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    That's awesome! I've heard about the heavenly breaks and ratios from a fellow traveler. I think I'll start working on my licensure soon. My recruiter has presented several options to me there.
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    I actually just got a contract in Salinas! At Natividad. Where did you live when you were there? What hospital, etc? Any suggestions greatly appreciated! I wish we could exchange email addresses but the thread had some restriction on it. ???

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