Health Insurance for Travelers & Digital Nomads

If you’re looking to hit the open road, you won’t only need car insurance, you’ll need health insurance.  Specifically, you’ll need a health insurance plan that will work wherever you.

The Basics of Health Insurance

If you’re going to be traveling for an extended period of time, chances are you will need medical care at some point in time.  Perhaps you will want to schedule your annual physical.  You may be sick and need a prescription.  You could even break a bone and need the ER.  So what happens?

Well, the good news is that in today’s day and age, many doctors participate in telehealth.  So, if you have traditional health insurance, you can still schedule doctor’s visits even if you’re away from home.  Things get tricky when lab work is involved though!  If you’re proactive, you can usually find reasonably priced tests. You may need to look into some type of minute clinic.

You can also make use of urgent care, just make sure to check what the costs would be with and without insurance.

But you can be at risk for some extravagant medical bills should you find yourself in need of a hospital.  Although the Affordable Care Act limits your exposure somewhat, many ER doctors are considered “contractors” and you may find yourself on the receiving end of a hefty bill.  So, what do you do?


A great option for someone planning extensive and long-term travel is a PPO.  PPOs (preferred provider organizations) provide coverage both in and out of network.  If you are planning any type of long-term travel, a PPO will provide you with the most coverage and the greatest peace of mind.  Premiums may be a little higher, but you are guaranteed coverage for doctors, specialists, and medical procedures.  Of course, your cost-share may be higher if you need to go out of network.

Additionally, there are out-of-pocket maximums.  So, should you find yourself in need of major medical services, eventually your insurance will take over entirely.  This will majorly limit your financial exposure.

Unfortunately, it can be very, very difficult to find a plan with nationwide PPO coverage on the marketplace.  To see what plans are available in your area, check out Healthcare.gov.  Even if you’re planning to travel, you’ll need to input some type of home base state.  Some states offer many more travel-friendly plans than others, so we highly recommend working with a broker to ensure you’re getting the best plan for your needs.

You can also work with a broker to find a private plan which may open up your options significantly.

Short Term Medical Health Insurance

A really good option for long-term travelers is short-term medical plans.  You can usually access the same benefits as marketplace plans with the added benefit of nationwide PPO coverage.  Additionally, STM is usually much less expensive.  However, they are not perfect and they are not for everyone.

  • They are not available to purchase in all states
  • They do not cover pregnancy
  • They are not ideal for people with small children
  • They may not cover all pre-existing conditions (although very often they will after the first year)

You can customize your coverage to meet your needs and make sure that the plan fits your budget and the benefits you need.  They’ll also impose that out-of-pocket max in case you should find yourself in need of major medical services while traveling.  If you’re interested in an STM plan, you’ll need to work with a broker because they are not available on the marketplace.


Although PPOs can be hard to find on the marketplace, you should be able to find a good HDHP with an HSA option.  A high deductible health plan will offer you lower monthly premiums and coverage in-network.  You can contribute to your HSA which is a Health Savings Account and use that account, tax-free, to pay for out-of-network services.

You can use an HSA for its triple tax advantage to further lower your premiums on the marketplace making this an inexpensive option for most of your health needs.  However, you may still find yourself in a little hot water should you incur major out-of-network medical expenses.  Surgeries can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Again, you can find these types of plans both on and off the marketplace.

There is specialized insurance for nomads, travel insurance plans, catastrophic coverage, and additional private insurance options available.   Please feel free to call us at iHealthBrokers at 888-918-0518 or schedule a call today.  Our services are 100% FREE!

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Jesse Smedley is the Principal Broker for iHealthBrokers and the founder, president, and CEO of Smedley Insurance Group, Inc. and iHealthBrokers.com. Since the inception of SIG in 2007, Jesse has been dedicated to helping people save money on their health insurance by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their health insurance options, both under age 65 and Medicare beneficiaries. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for expert columns regarding health insurance and Medicare.

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