If you saw my November RV Life Magazine column, “Health Insurance Options for RVers” you already know that the 2016 health insurance plan options for full-time RVers are horrible. In a nutshell, full-timers based in popular domicile states like Texas and Florida will no longer have health insurance that covers them across state lines.
PPO Insurance Plans are History
Major health insurance providers cite high costs for canceling the Preferred Provider Option insurance plans that enable members to see the doctor, clinic or lab of their choice. From now on, any members of a provider like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas will be required get care via a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) policy. What does this mean for full-timers?
- No more freedom of choice. From now on, we must choose from a limited list of providers within the HMO network.
- No more easy access to care. All requests must be approved by a primary care physician (PCP). Heaven forbid if we want to seek specialty care, because even a dermatology visit must also go through a PCP – which can only happen if you see the PCP in person.
- A primary care physician shortage. PCPs are already in short supply. The doctors currently in HMO networks will have even more patient demand as hundreds of thousands of members switch over to HMO plans.
- No more health care across state lines. From now on, only ER visits that happen out of your home state will be covered by insurance plans but even that’s not guaranteed coverage: if you’re in a different state and your ER visit isn’t an approved “Emergency,” you are looking at footing the entire bill.
The last point is the most dramatic change to full-timers’ health insurance coverage. Beginning in 2016 full-timers must travel to our home states for routine care. Got an aching back? Travel to Texas. Seeing double? Sorry, you’ll need to drive back to your home state with one eye closed.
These changes are stunning and for many who have chronic health issues, a deal breaker for their full-timing dream. I feel terrible for full-timing “dreamers” who need regular medical care because from now on, their long-term RV travel plans are pretty much dead.
In my November column I point out some options full-time RVers have for coping with these changes. The company RVerInsuranceExchange also has a comprehensive guide to these sweeping changes: The RVer Guide to ACA Open Enrollment 2016. I encourage you to read it if you’re on the road now, or about to be.
It would be easy to blame Obamacare for these horrendous changes, but, in all likelihood, health insurance companies would have done this regardless. With escalating health care costs, eliminating freedom of choice was inevitable.
And if you’re thinking of going without insurance, Kyle Henson of Rver Insurance Exchange says think again. “Hey, you still have this option,” he says on his website. “For most people, it’s not going to be the wisest path. Not only is the tax penalty for going uninsured going to be higher in 2016, but being uninsured exposes you to the possibility of medical claims bankruptcy. We do not recommend this route!”
As the saying goes, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. And now, sadly, if you don’t have your health and deep pockets of cash reserves, you also don’t have the option to go full-time RVing either. Truly a sad situation.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.