Ahh, health insurance as a pre-medicare full-time traveler. To me, this is the #1 hardest thing about this lifestyle, even harder than the question of how to earn money on the road. And spoiler alert: I don’t have a perfect solution. But as with the question of internet on the road, I’ve done enough research to find what works best for me, and write periodic updates on it because it’s an important facet of hitting the road. But first:
Disclaimer: I am not by any stretch of the imagination qualified to offer official or legal advice on health insurance. Seek a professional to advise you if you’re at all unsure what you should do.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, on to the article!
Talking about health insurance is sure to make a person’s eyes glaze over, it’s not a very fun subject. So instead of saving the best for last, I’m sharing the best right here at the beginning, before I lose you.
Pretty much everything I know about health insurance as a nomad I learned from Kyle and his team over at http://www.rverinsurance.com/. He’s a full-time RVer himself and his website is a wonderful source of information on health insurance (plus other types of insurance) for RVers. I can’t answer what type of health insurance will work best for you, but this website can – there are more options than just the Marketplace out there. This page is a great place to start for what’s up with health insurance in 2018: http://www.rverinsurance.com/health-insurance-2018/.
And seriously. Check the page out and contact them if you’re going to be hitting the road and the thought of health insurance is threatening to send you into a panic attack. They can help.
Now on to what I, personally, do as a South Dakota resident.
Being more or less self-employed, pre-retirement age, in general good health but wanting to cover myself in case of an emergency, and wanting to stay compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I have a plan through https://www.healthcare.gov/ – commonly called the Marketplace. Let me state here that things are much different for medicare age RVers, and that this article is aimed at younger pre-medicare RVers such as myself.
Every state’s Marketplace offerings are different, and some are definitely better than others. Of the three big full-timing residency states (Florida, South Dakota, and Texas), only Florida has Marketplace plans that provide nation-wide coverage (Florida Blue), which is something worth thinking about for those of you hitting the road in the near future who are debating what residency state to choose.
If I had health issues and required regular medical care, I’d probably “move” to Florida for this reason, but as I am still, thankfully, in good health, I can’t justify the cost it would take to switch residency states at this time.
With my plan based out of South Dakota I’m covered for an emergency out-of-state, but if I needed recurring care, I’d need to go back to South Dakota to get it. Likewise if I want any preventative care, checkups, etc., I need to go back to South Dakota, which for me isn’t a huge deal as most of my family is in Wisconsin so I tend to pass through South Dakota pretty regularly on the way to and from there.
My plan is through Avera Health Plans, called Avera 5000, and this is the third year I’ve had it.
The yearly cost would be in the neighborhood of $450 (it went up about 22% again over last year), but because of my lower income level, I qualify for a subsidy that makes this plan similar in cost to what my high deductible private plan use to be before the ACA went into effect in 2015.
For people who earn above the subsidy level ($48,000/annual for individuals), Marketplace plans can get quite pricey and may not be your best solution. 2017 opened up the possibility of joining a medical cost sharing group as a viable option as it’s now ACA exempt, but it’s important to realize that this isn’t actual insurance, there is no guarantee of payout. Kyle’s site that I mentioned above goes more into this so do check it out.
Whatever route you choose, you do want to sign up for an ACA compliant plan instead of going without, even if you’re in great health.
Since 2016, the penalty for not being insured has been $695 per adult or 2.5% of your annual income, whichever is higher. For my income level, it’s cheaper to pay for the insurance, and it’s more responsible too. There are certain exemptions where you might not need to have an ACA complaint plan, but if you fall under the umbrella of one of those exemptions you likely already know it.
Lastly, the health insurance field is very turbulent and tends to change dramatically from year to year.
It’s no secret that President Trump is not fond of the ACA and has been pushing for changes. This article will probably hold up well for for the rest of 2018, but 2019 is a whole ‘nother story. Start visiting RVerInsurance.com come mid-November to catch up on what changes are in the works for the new year, so that you can continue to make an informed decision when it comes time to renew your insurance.
* Comments have been turned off on this post. Health insurance is a hot button issue with several different camps of belief and a lot of strong feelings. In past editions of this post I’ve had to police comments rigorously for political arguments and I just don’t want to deal with that anymore, especially while I’m on vacation. If you have a question or comment about health insurance on the road, you’re welcome to contact me privately using my contact form and I’ll respond when I’m back from vacation. Thank you for understanding.
- Want to learn more about my health insurance history on the road? Here’s my 2017 article, from which you can go back and see all of them.
- Setting up South Dakota Residency for RVers – Pretty self-explanatory title. Though as I said, from a health insurance standpoint Florida is the better option these days.
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