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:
 

  1. 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 medben@ooida.com.
    • This plan is great for basic services you may require, but does not cover seeing specialists.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  2. 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
  1.  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. 
  1. 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.
 

Comments (7)

Kim Sheffield

Kim has both graduate and undergraduate degrees in education and taught for 14 years before coming to ATBS in November 2007. Her teaching experience includes secondary, college and adult education. In addition to her education background, Kim also has six years of business experience working with small businesses in the Denver area providing advice and bookkeeping services for individual clients. When she's not at work, Kim enjoys sports, especially skiing, basketball, soccer and softball. Travel is her favorite hobby and she has traveled all over the world. Her more scholarly pursuits include reading, learning languages and lecturing in the community on current events.

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My wife and I are paying over $700 a month for insurance for the family. Once the cap is reached, there is no cost or co-pay. A friend works at the post office and complains of a little over $70 amonth for his family.

December 31, 2012 1:37:27 AM

Health insurance company's and insurance policy's are state specific and complicated and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is more than complicated. You can seek local assistance for state information, but for information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act the government has provided a very nice website at: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/index.html
that is easy to read and easy to understand.

October 12, 2012 11:38:32 AM

Wow, Kim! This is really great info, thanks!!

October 04, 2012 7:22:21 AM

I too use a high deductible policy and then contribute monthly to a health savings account. The goal is to be putting away enough in the HSA so that eventually I will have the deductible saved up and ready should there be a major health issue. I went online and used ehealthinsurance.com to get quotes.

September 23, 2012 16:11:02 PM

Very difficult for a driver to maintain a balance. I'm a firm believer in diet and exercise.

September 19, 2012 8:34:04 AM

I use a high deductable HSA to cover my families needs. The premium difference between the high and low deductable plans was almost the same as the deductable.

September 17, 2012 20:46:54 PM

Many O/O I know use a high deductible insurance which works very well for us. I would research these types of policies.

September 17, 2012 13:57:25 PM