In the US we all know health insurance can seem unaffordable. Health insurance is even more expensive for owner-operators as they are considered to run a small business and do not receive the same discounted rates company drivers can receive from a large carrier. OOIDA has found that almost a third of owner operators and just slightly fewer independent drivers do not have any form of medical coverage. Those owner-operators who choose to have a healthcare policy face the challenge of researching policies to find the one that works for their needs and their budget while on the road.
According to owner-operator data collected by ATBS, who has recorded over 55,000 health related issues for their clients, medical bills are one of the top three reasons an independent contractor will lose their business. An accident or illness to you or someone in your family can mean you are faced with large medical bills and/or time off the road. Time off the road is money not earned. This can lead to missed truck payments and eventually bankruptcy. The reality is that a lack of proper health and medical care can cost drivers their jobs and their lives.
If a typical health insurance plan is unobtainable within your budget, here are alternative healthcare options available to drivers:
- OOIDA. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, (OOIDA) offers group rates for health insurance and has a non-insurance plan available.
- Insurance Plans are offered through TransAmerica Life Insurance Company.
- High deductible plan to keep the premium low:
- This plan is great for healthy individuals or those looking to keep their monthly expenses lower in the short term.
- Low deductible plan with a higher premium:
- Better for individuals requiring regular care, who would benefit from paying a higher monthly premium or who know they would exceed the cost of the high deductible plan within the year.
- OOIDA also has a Non-insurance plan called “My Community Care”.
- No co-pays or deductibles
- No appointment necessary
- 1,300 healthcare centers to meet medical, injury care, and urgent care needs
- Unlimited visits for basic health services such as vaccinations, accidents, general care, preventive care and a host of other services. Other services available for a nominal fee.
- $89/month for single or family
- Contact information: 1-800-715-9369 or email them at email@example.com.
- This plan is great for basic services you may require, but does not cover seeing specialists.
- SCF. The St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (SCF) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help professional drivers and their families who have financial needs due to medical problems.
- Assistance may be in the form of direct payment for medical services or prescription drugs
- Assistance with expenses while recovering from illness and out of work
- Negotiating price reductions with insurance companies, medical providers and hospitals.
- Information on how to submit an application is available on their website.
- This service can help you save a lot of money on your medical bills.
- Convenient Care Clinics. This association of clinics has created a national network of DOT clinics, and has launched a new initiative focused on the health and wellness of truck drivers across America.
- Member clinics. Member clin iics are found at leading pharmacies such as CVS / Minute Clinic, Little Clinic, RediClinic, and Walmart. The over 600 clinics offer DOT exams and ongoing wellness services for truck drivers.
- Wellness services such as biometric screening
- Disease management programs
- Weight loss programs and nutrition counseling
- Common vaccinations
- Essential Preventative and routine health services
- Walgreens has its own set of clinics known as Take Care Clinics and they have a slightly different set of services than the convenient care clinics.
- HTAA. The Healthy Trucking Association of America (HTAA) offers programs to improve the health of professional drivers and has quickly evolved into the leading authority on driver health and wellness issues.
- HTAA is great resource to keep up with what issues are facing drivers and available options. HTAA was at GATS (2012) promoting health awareness.
Choosing an affordable health care option is a huge issue for owner-operators. Whether or not to carry health insurance is still an option (until 2014 with the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”), maintaining good health is not. Your life and business depend on it. Choosing one or more of these alternative options can mean keeping you and your family healthy and can keep you in business. Continue checking in with Team Run Smart for updated information as health care laws and regulations in the US continue to change.