Sunday, October 2, 2022


The Business of Work Camping – Health insurance options

By Sam Suva
The type of health insurance you have while on the road depends on how much you want to pay for health care during that time. There are several options including private insurance, insurance through previous full-time employment (COBRA), Medicare and Marketplace. Let’s explore these options.

Private insurance
We looked into private insurance as a contractor before we work camped. The amount for minimal coverage was almost a $1,000 a month and the policy cherry-picked what low dollar costs to cover while the policy holder paid out of pocket for very expensive prescriptions and doctor visits. Major medical was only covered to a certain amount and the rest we were responsible to pay. The deductible was north of $5,000 per year, but even when it was satisfied there were still other out-of-pocket expenses.

No insurance
We opted for a few years to go without health insurance and that proved to be effective. We come from working class families and our parents applied homeopathic fixes to our bumps, rashes, scrapes and bruises, so we had a pretty good handle on what we could and couldn’t mend. Additionally, we looked up symptoms online and how to medicate them and that worked as well. When we did need major medical, we negotiated with the hospital. We were able to pay a reduced rate, but the doctor’s pay was not negotiable. We paid in installments until it was paid in full, several months … or years … later.

COBRA is an insurance policy for employees leaving their employment and wishing to continue their insurance coverage for up to 18 months. While the monthly rates will probably go up and the coverage will see a decrease, the policy can be a stop-gap until retirement or alternative health care can be obtained.

Retiring and transitioning into Medicare can look like a daunting task, but not once the process has begun. Be sure to fill out the paperwork as soon as you can and get the coverage started. There are options within this also: original Medicare or a PPO (preferred provider organization)? The website will help you decide what is best for your situation.

We finally went to Marketplace when I needed major surgery. We were still paying off the previous surgery and decided that we needed to get insurance. The Marketplace offers multiple insurance options with clear definitions and choices.

Whether we had or did not have insurance, we always had options. We made choices based on our circumstances and adjusted our finances to accommodate the expenses. Exploring insurance coverages is beneficial to understanding how our money will be spent, not just on premiums, but for out-of-pocket expenses like prescriptions, eye glasses and doctor visit co-pays. The number one complaint we hear when transitioning to work camping is the increase in the amount needed to pay for health care premiums and the lack of coverage for prescriptions.

Are you considering changes to your insurance? What is your experience? Please let us know your comments and suggestions for others who are considering work camping as the next adventure!

See you down the road,


Sam Suva and his wife are work campers. They began work camping more than 10 years ago and have spent a lot of time working as they traveled. In this new weekly feature, they will share their experiences with you, with an emphasis on how to incorporate work camping into a full time RV lifestyle.

Read more articles about Work Camping.


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Nikki Harnish
3 years ago

I am new to full-time RVing. Currently a resident of the state that I used to own my own home in. Spending more and more time in Oregon and wonder if I should change my residency. This would involve changing the marketplace plan to an Oregon plan. Do you have any advice for me?

3 years ago
Reply to  Nikki Harnish

Hello Nikki, welcome to full-time RV’ing. Residency varies according to the state laws in each state. Weigh the pros and cons of each state’s vehicle tax and fees, possible vehicle inspections and state taxes. It may be cost effective to become a resident of another state, it may however be cost prohibitive. We were in Florida and that state had required that simply working there one had to change residency after 10 days.
Changing an address where one lives does not mean changing the mailing address, so it may be possible to keep your current insurance. Always follow the rules of the state you are currently living in and working in regarding residency and insurance.
All my best.

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