Category Archives: Practicalities

Health Insurance for Nomads

Living the nomadic life in an RV can be exciting. There’s always something new to see and do. But what if, while your trying some daring, new adventure, you’re injured? What do you do? Visit the doctor, of course. But, when it comes time to pay the bill? Then what?

The Ugly Realities

Nomadic life can still have downfalls. And when those downfalls are literal and you get hurt, it’s nice to know that you can see a doctor and get fixed up without breaking the bank.

Phil and I are in the unique position of his being a member of IBEWIBEW. We can travel the country in relative surety of medical treatment whenever we need it. Even though his plan while we’re at home is an HMO, the insurer, Kaiser, has offices in 8 states on both coasts. And, when we find ourselves out of reach of a Kaiser, they allow for urgent and emergency visits to be covered wherever we are.

This is great for us, but what about anyone else wanting to live this lifestyle, but not having a national healthcare plan through their employer? What if you’re self-employed? Here are a few of the different options available.

Alternative Insurance for an Alternative Lifestyle

A great resource is the RVer Insurance Exchange. They have several options on their site for all age ranges. They can help with regular medical insurance, Medicare supplements, and short-term solutions for those in between insurances. As of this posting, the only “regular” health insurance option they have is Altrua Healthcare.

Altrua is a health care sharing ministry plan (HCSM). It is religiously based, but not restrictive to those who are religious.  The HCSM model has grown in popularity since the advent of the Affordable Care Act as a cheaper alternative to traditional health plans.  They offer discounted coverage for a monthly “contribution” amount and ask that their members adhere to a Statement of Standards. These standards include things like non-smoking, no extramarital sex or drug use. The member can then visit any provider in their extensive national network and receive care. The “contributions”  go into an escrow account from which members’ medical costs are paid. This monthly cost is dependent on one’s age, plan type (there are 3) and the number of persons to be covered. Price ranges from 120-780/mo. Not an ideal situation, but for the generally healthy that just want catastrophic insurance, a viable option.

Another option offered on the RVer Insurance Exchange is telemedicine. This is an intriguing idea that Phil and I may avail ourselves of regardless of our current coverage.  The Teledoc plan offered on this site from Careington would only cost Phil and I $14.95/mo, or $149/yr. This would give us 24/7 access to a physician via phone, app, or computer. So for those little thinTelemedicinegs we don’t actually need to be in the physical presence of a doctor for – colds, allergies, sinus infections – we could just consult via the internet, get a scrip called in to a local pharmacy for what ails us, and get on with our day. No need to find a local provider’s office or sit in a waiting room full of sick people. I’d pay $15 a month for that. The plan also includes discounts on vision, dental and prescriptions.  Great for the routine  sniffly-type stuff.

More traditional options

For those looking for a more traditional plan, or those with pre-existing conditions, I’d recommend checking out It will show options for plans like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and Assurant. Keep in mind that not all options are available for every state. You have to input the zip code on your driver’s license to see what you qualify for and at what rate.

I put in our info for our home state and got back several plans. The premiums for us were about the same for PPOs as for HMOs and the prices ranged from around $400 to $900 per month. PPOs would be the easiest choice while traveling because it opens the provider pool and keeps the out-of-pocket costs down.  But, that’s for you to decide. But don’t forget to factor in out-of-network costs even in a PPO, as they can sneak up on you.

Travel Healthier

The main point is that regardless of your individual situation, there are several options open for health insurance.   The trick is finding the one that fits your needs, and budget, best. We have coverage already that should be more than sufficient for us, but it’s nice to see the options in case we want, or need, to make a change.  And, I think we may opt for the Teledoc plan anyway if only for those times when the closest doctor is an hour away and we just have a cold.

Which option do you think is best?

While perusing some Facebook groups today, I saw an idea I had not thought of in relation to potential health issues. I plan on learning how to drive the rig in case I need to, but, in case of catastrophic events, I think it may be a good idea to get some sort of travel assist insurance. This would be for those times when one, or both of us, are seriously injured and we need help getting to a hospital, getting our rig to whatever medical facility we find ourselves transported to, and finding temporary boarding for the kids.

I looked at SkyMed and Good Sam’s since those were the two I saw mentioned in the full-time RV Facebook page and I couldn’t really find anyone else that offered anything close to this kind of coverge. They both seem to be pretty comprehensive. I like the Good Sam TravelAssist Premier plan. It runs about $140/year and includes emergency pet housing. The $80 plan does not so that would not work.  And the SkyMed plan seems more tailored to conventional travel as opposed to full-time Rving.  I think we’ll be adding this to our yearly costs just to be on the safe side.

What coverage, if any, do you have/suggest? Did I miss anything else for health coverage?


Which Hitch?

We’ve gone through what trailer we are looking to buy. But, we need a hitch to tow it. Our truck didn’t come with one installed so the question is which hitch is the best fit for us?

Deciding factors

There are all sorts of factors that come into play in this decision. The first being towing capacity. We’ve already narrowed down how much weight our truck can handle so we need to make sure that our hitch can handle the same. But we may upgrade our truck in the future and be able to tow more weight. Do we want to be able to take our hitch with us? How much more should we buy for? We can’t predict how big we may eventually want to go, so why not shoot for as big as we can get? So that put the search in the range of 21-24,000 pounds.

Next, the length of our truck bed needs to be taken into account. We have a short bed so we need a sliding hitch. If we don’t have one, the nose of the trailer could hit the back of our cab in a tight turn. That would limit our maneuverability and we can’t have that.  Who knows where our travels will lead us. I, for one, don’t want to have to turn back from a great place just because our hitch won’t let us get in there.

We also want to make sure that the connection is as secure as we can get it, preferably with vibration control for ride smoothness.  If we go somewhere and need the truck bed, it needs to be light enough to be removed without a cherry picker too.  Add all these factors together and one can narrow the playing field.

Where to shop

After trolling around on manufacturer’s websites, I found a nice website that will narrow the field for you based on your tow vehicle and other search parameters:

When I searched it, it gave me about 9 results int he 21-24K weight range. From there, I narrowed it down further to the Curt Q24 5th Wheel Trailer Hitch w/ R24 Slider. With the install kit, it’s pretty reasonably priced. It will tow up to 24,000 pounds with 10 inches of slider travel and has a 10 year warranty.  You don’t have to drill into the truck frame to install it, and it’ll fit a 6′ bed.  It is a bit heavy, but at that towing capacity, you can’t find anything under 200 pounds. It shouldn’t be too difficult for Phil and I together to remove it if need be though.

The reviews on this product are very favorable and looks like a very reputable company.  I’ll have Phil look at it and see what he thinks, but I think we may have found our hitch.  Fingers crossed.

Curt Q24 5th Wheel Trailer Hitch w/ R24 Slider

Which RV Is Right for Us?

This is the hardest part,I think. Figuring out which RV will be our new home. We have to consider size (will be be too small?), weight (how much can we tow with our truck?), features (bed size? seating? storage space?), and the kids (will they have enough room so the house doesn’t feel like a kennel?).

We decided a few of the must-haves. We need to have something that will accommodate a king size bed. Phil is a tall guy and anything smaller than a king has his feet hanging off the end of the bed. And the interior height must be tall enough that Phil doesn’t have to duck all the time. We don’t want him becoming a hunchback just because he can’t stand upright in his own home.

We want it to be washer/dryer ready. We may not have a washer/dryer, but we’d like to have the option. And there must be enough storage room underneath the RV for our windsurfing equipment, a generator, and tools with some room leftover for other miscellaneous things.

The truck and it’s towing capacity are non-negotiable. At least until we upgrade the truck. But, we’ve had it less than a year so it’s not going anywhere soon. Besides, it may be a good thing that it limits us to 13K in weight. We don’t want to go overboard while we’re working the bugs out of this lifestyle.  It’s a new adventure for us. We shouldn’t bite off too much to start and a 40+ foot fifth wheel might be a little much.

We’ve narrowed a list down to a few manufacturers and models. Now we just need to compare availability, price and warranties. Apparently, some companies are better than others when it comes to warranty claims and duration. That is one of those nasty realisms that we have to keep in mind while chasing this dream of ours.

We’ve been to our local RV dealers and checked out a few models. Now, we’ll look for the best deal within a radius we’re comfortable traveling for the perfect one(or as close to perfect as we can get). Phil seems to like the Montana High Country. It’s built nicely, has great basement storage, and Keystone has a good reputation. But we’ll see what we can find and get.

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