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  • Writer's pictureJo Soria

Health Insurance for Truckers 101

As the COVID era fully revealed, truckers are essential workers; and these critical players in the U.S. economy and supply chain face some unique healthcare needs. (Eleven-hour driving days, anyone?) This week the #TRN team explores how long-distance truckers can optimize their healthcare and meet the demands of a challenging lifestyle.

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Health Hazards of the Road

In 2022, over 3.5 million truck drivers transported over $940 billion in freight revenue across the U.S. But truckers—the quiet cornerstone of the nation's economic backbone—may face various health risks daily to get the job done.


A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other partners outlined several health and safety findings that are notably higher within the long-haul trucking industry than in the general population, including the prevalence of:

  • Obesity, including morbid obesity

  • Cigarette smoking

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension and high cholesterol

  • Overall sedentary lifestyle

  • Insomnia or sleep apnea

  • Headaches or migraines

  • Depression

Considering the inherent challenges truckers face as part of the job description, these findings aren't necessarily surprising. Everyday environmental and job-related demands make long-term driving a test of endurance, including:

  • Fewer nutritious meal options or opportunities to prepare food, risk of dehydration

  • Extensive working hours and potential for sleep deprivation

  • Increased risk of auto accidents

  • Fewer opportunities for physical activity

  • Working conditions conducive to muscle tension, spinal compression, and poor posture


Study Shows Higher Health Risks, Inadequate Coverage for Truckers

But here's the alarming part: while truckers may face more daily health risks than the average American worker, an estimated 38% of truck drivers were not covered by health insurance or a healthcare plan in 2014 (compared to a national average of 17% of American adults). This may be partly due to affordability issues coupled with the fact that truckers may often be classified as independent contractors instead of W-2 employees, leaving the burden on them to find and secure their health insurance plans.


Truck drivers need flexible, affordable solutions for healthcare anywhere. In addition to our library of resources for choosing a healthcare plan, we'll also share some specific considerations for our friends in the trucking industry.


Tip 1: Know Your Needs

First things first, think about your current lifestyle and what you expect the coming year to look like. Are you planning to grow your family? Relocating? Having surgery? Though none of us have a crystal ball, and we may encounter plenty of pleasant (and less pleasant) surprises in any given year, it's still wise to consider these possibilities.


Understanding your personal and family health needs can go a long way in helping you narrow down the numerous plans that are available. In addition to the regular medical plans available on the ACA Marketplace, there may be additional options.

Semi-truck driving along road; trucker health insurance

Tip 2: Map Your Plan

Once you've reviewed your current and anticipated healthcare needs, it's time to consider the available options to meet them.


ACA Marketplace Plans

Truck drivers who work as independent contractors or otherwise don't have access to employer-sponsored health coverage can find a wide variety of plans in the ACA Marketplace. The Marketplace platform was enacted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and offers individual and family healthcare plans at multiple price points and levels of support.


One of the keys to shopping the Marketplace is to strike the right balance between monthly premium affordability and ensuring the ability to pay the necessary deductibles when healthcare services are needed.


Medicaid Plans

Though truck drivers can earn over $80,000/year on average, many drivers will not see this salary. Truckers earning below the maximum income may qualify for Medicaid, a government-sponsored program providing lower-income individuals with health insurance.

NOTE: Medicaid may be called something different in your state. To find out what's available where you live, start here.



Short-Term Health Plans

Truck drivers between jobs or employer-sponsored coverage may be interested in seeking a short-term health plan. These plans feature lower premiums than other plans that are available through the ACA Marketplace, so they may also offer a temporary solution for someone who might not otherwise be able to afford coverage.


Keep in mind that one major disadvantage of a short-term health plan is that providers may deny short-term coverage if the applicant has a pre-existing condition.



Tip 3: Build Solutions for the Long Haul

Once you've explored and secured the right plan, it's time to use it! Even a high-end policy will only do you good if you commit to using the services they cover.


Make Time for Preventative Care

There's a lot to be said about disease prevention or early detection. There can be expenses and inconveniences related to maintaining annual checkups or routine exams, but these costs likely pale compared to chronic disease management or significant medical interventions.


Solutions on the Road: Don't Forget About Telehealth

Life on the road often comes without the luxury of stopping into your local urgent care clinic or primary care physician's office when experiencing a low-level health issue. And even with a good healthcare plan, the costs and inconveniences of being sick on the road can add up quickly.


Fortunately, the rapid rise of telehealth and other digital consultation methods may be the answer to an allergy flare-up, mild cough, or other minor health concerns on the road.



Tip 4: When in Doubt, Get (FREE) Help from a Pro

We've covered the health insurance basics here, but the reality is that healthcare shopping can get complicated. Whether you have a growing family, need specific medications to manage a chronic condition, or want help weighing the advantages of HMOs versus PPOs, seeking advice from a licensed professional can be the difference between securing a plan and leaving this essential task unaddressed.


No-Cost Consultations, Really

One common misconception about insurance consultations is that consumers must pay out of pocket to speak with a health insurance agent, but this isn't the case. You can talk with a health insurance expert free of charge, and with Trusted Referral Network (TRN), we'll even find that licensed and qualified expert for you.


At #TRN, we've made it our mission to find proven, trusted advisors who can break down the big decisions and bring peace of mind to insurance shoppers seeking coverage. Get started with us today to connect with your pre-qualified agent.


 

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