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Working From Home? Here’s How to Find the Best Health Insurance for Remote Workers

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By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

52 - Working From Home- Here s How to Find the Best Health Insurance for Remote Workers

In the U.S. alone more than 4.7 million people work remotely. This number is only expected to grow from this point forward. So, it has become more important than ever for organizations to look for the best health insurance for remote workers.

But with so many options available, it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. From traditional health insurance to international plans and health stipends, this article will explore the best health insurance for remote workers. So, if you're looking for an affordable and reliable way to keep your employees healthy, read on!

1. Types of Health Insurance for Remote Workers

1.1. Traditional Health Insurance

1 1 - Traditional Health Insurance

Traditional health insurance is a type of health coverage that is purchased through an employer or private insurer. This plan typically covers medical expenses incurred within a specified network, such as doctors and hospitals. Traditional health plans usually have deductibles, meaning the insured person must pay a certain amount before their provider will cover the cost of care.  

These plans may require copayments for services and may impose annual or lifetime limits on benefits. Premiums for traditional health insurance tend to be higher than those for high-deductible plans, but this type of coverage may offer more comprehensive coverage and provide peace of mind in the event of an unexpected illness or injury.

1.1.1. Why is traditional health insurance the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Comprehensive coverage

Traditional health insurance plans are designed to offer comprehensive coverage for a wide range of medical expenses. This coverage includes a variety of healthcare services, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, diagnostic tests, and prescription drugs. With comprehensive coverage, remote workers can have peace of mind, knowing that their medical expenses are covered. It can be particularly beneficial for remote workers who may have unique healthcare needs or who may not have easy access to medical facilities.

  •     Provider network

One of the benefits of traditional health insurance plans is that they often come with established provider networks. These networks consist of a group of healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals, and clinics, who have agreements with the insurance company to offer medical services to plan members. For remote workers who may not have easy access to local healthcare providers, these provider networks can be particularly valuable. By accessing these networks, remote workers can receive high-quality medical care from trusted providers.

  • Compliance

Employers have a legal obligation to provide their employees with health insurance coverage that meets certain requirements under state and federal law. By offering traditional health insurance plans to their remote workers, employers can ensure that they are in compliance with these laws and regulations. Compliance with health insurance requirements helps to protect both employees and employers from potential legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance. Offering traditional health insurance plans can also be a key factor in attracting and retaining high-quality employees.

1.1.2. When traditional health insurance may not be the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Cost

One of the challenges of offering traditional health insurance plans to remote workers is that they may be more expensive than plans for in-office workers. This is because of the increased complexity of managing a remote workforce. Remote workers may be located in different states or even countries, which can make it difficult for employers to negotiate healthcare pricing and manage compliance with state and federal laws. Additionally, traditional health insurance plans may require higher premiums to account for the increased risk associated with remote workers.

  • Limited options

Depending on the location of the remote worker, there may be limited options for healthcare providers within the plan's provider network. This can limit the ability of remote workers to access the care they need. For example, if a remote worker lives in a rural area with limited medical facilities, they may have to travel significant distances to receive medical care from a provider within the plan's network. In some cases, they may need to seek medical care outside of the network, which can result in higher out-of-pocket costs.

  • Administrative complexity

Managing traditional health insurance plans for remote workers can be administratively complex, particularly when it comes to compliance with state-specific regulations. Each state has its own laws and regulations related to health insurance, which can make it challenging for employers to ensure that their plans are compliant. Employers may need to hire additional staff or work with third-party administrators to manage the administrative complexity of traditional health insurance plans for remote workers. This can add to the cost of offering health insurance benefits to remote workers.

1.2. International Health Insurance

1 2 - International Health Insurance

This type of health coverage is designed to provide individuals with protection when they are traveling abroad. This type of policy will typically cover medical expenses incurred while in another country, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription medications. Unlike traditional health plans, international health insurance policies are often tailored to meet the needs of travelers and may include higher levels of coverage than those found in domestic plans. 

These policies may also offer additional benefits such as evacuation services and emergency transportation. International health insurance provides peace of mind for those who travel frequently or live abroad and can help protect them from the high costs associated with medical care in other countries.

1.2.1. Why is international health insurance the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Easy administration

International health insurance plans are designed to be easy to administer for remote workers. They often come with online portals and mobile apps that allow remote workers to manage their coverage, find healthcare providers, and submit claims from anywhere in the world. This ease of administration can be particularly beneficial for employers who have a large number of remote workers located in different parts of the world.

  • Flexibility

One of the advantages of international health insurance plans is that they can be more flexible than traditional plans. They offer a range of coverage options that can be tailored to the unique needs of remote workers. This can include coverage for pre-existing conditions, maternity care, mental health care, and more. This flexibility allows remote workers to choose a plan that meets their specific needs and can help them save money on healthcare costs.

  • Global provider network

International health insurance plans often have a global provider network, giving remote workers access to healthcare providers around the world. This can be particularly beneficial for remote workers who are living and working in different countries. By having access to a global provider network, remote workers can receive high-quality medical care, no matter where they are located. This can be particularly valuable for remote workers who may be working in countries with limited healthcare infrastructure. Additionally, having a global provider network can provide peace of mind to remote workers who may be concerned about accessing medical care in unfamiliar locations.

1.2.2. When international health insurance may not be the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Cost

One of the drawbacks of international health insurance plans is that they can be more expensive than traditional plans. This is due to the increased coverage and flexibility they offer. International health insurance plans may also have higher premiums to account for the increased risk associated with remote workers. This can be a significant cost for employers, particularly for small businesses.

  • Limited coverage

Depending on the plan, international health insurance may have limitations on coverage for certain types of medical expenses or in certain locations. For example, some plans may not cover certain pre-existing conditions, or they may limit coverage for certain types of medical procedures. This can limit the ability of remote workers to access the care they need, particularly if they have a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment.

  • Limited provider network

Based on the location of the remote worker, there may be limited options for healthcare providers within the plan's global provider network. This can restrict the ability of remote workers to access the care they need. For example, if a remote worker is located in a country with limited medical facilities, they may have difficulty finding a provider within the plan's network. In some cases, they may need to seek medical care outside of the network, which can result in higher out-of-pocket costs.

1.3. Health Stipends

1 3 - Health Stipends

Health stipends are a great way for employers to provide their remote employees with the health coverage they need without having to pay for international health insurance. With a health stipend, employers can give their remote workers money to use towards medical expenses like doctor visits, prescriptions, and travel costs associated with getting medical care. Health stipends are also beneficial because they can be tailored to meet each employee's individual needs and budget.

Depending on the size of the stipend, employees can choose the type of health coverage that works best for them. For example, some may choose to purchase a more comprehensive plan while others may opt for more basic coverage. In addition, if an employee does not use all of their health stipends in one year, it typically rolls over into the following year so they do not lose out on any unused funds.

1.3.1. Why are health stipends the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Cost-effective 

Health stipends can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional or international health insurance plans. Instead of offering a comprehensive health insurance plan, employers can offer a set amount of money to their remote workers to use towards their own health insurance coverage or healthcare expenses. This can be a cost-effective solution for employers, as they do not need to manage complex insurance plans or pay for coverage that their employees may not use.

  • Easy administration

Health stipends can be relatively easy to administer, as the employer only needs to provide a set amount of money to their remote workers each month. This can be done through payroll or other payment systems, and the remote worker can use the funds to purchase their own health insurance coverage or pay for healthcare expenses as needed. This simplicity can save employers time and resources and can be particularly beneficial for small businesses.

  • Attract and retain talent

Offering health stipends can be an attractive benefit for remote workers, particularly for those who may not need or want traditional health insurance coverage. This can help employers attract and retain top talent, as remote workers may be more likely to choose an employer that offers a flexible and customizable benefits package. Additionally, health stipends can be a valuable benefit for remote workers who may be self-employed or contract workers, as they may not have access to traditional health insurance plans through an employer.

1.3.2. When health stipends may not be the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Compliance

Employers must ensure that their health stipends comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as the Affordable Care Act and state-specific insurance requirements. This can require additional resources and expertise on the part of the employer to ensure that their health stipend program is in compliance with all applicable regulations.

  • Employee education

Offering health stipends requires employers to educate their remote workers about how to use them effectively. This can include providing information about different health insurance options, how to enroll in a plan, how to use the stipend to pay for healthcare expenses, and more. This education can be time-consuming and may require the employer to provide ongoing support to their remote workers.

  • Inconsistent costs

Health stipends can result in inconsistent costs for employers, as the amount of money they need to provide to their remote workers may vary depending on factors such as the cost of healthcare in different locations and changes in the individual needs of their remote workers. This can make it challenging for employers to budget for their health stipend program and can result in unexpected expenses. Employers may need to regularly review and adjust their stipend amounts to ensure that they are providing adequate support for their remote workers.

1.4. Health Insurance with a Local Partner

1 4 - Health Insurance with a Local Partner

Local health insurance partners are a great option for remote workers who need coverage. With a local partner, employers can provide their employees with the same quality of healthcare they would receive if they were in-person employees. Local health insurance providers typically offer plans tailored to the specific needs of their customers, giving remote workers access to comprehensive coverage at affordable rates

These providers often offer added services such as discounts on health and wellness products, access to medical specialists, and personalized care plans. These features make it easier for remote workers to get the healthcare they need without having to worry about high costs or limited options. Furthermore, local partners are more likely than large international companies to be familiar with the laws and regulations regarding healthcare in each region – making them an excellent choice for employers looking for reliable coverage for their remote employees.

1.4.1. Why is health insurance with a local partner the best health insurance for remote workers

  • Local expertise

Partnering with a local health insurance provider can be beneficial for remote workers who are based in a specific region or country. Local health insurance providers have extensive knowledge and experience with the local healthcare system, culture, and regulations. They can help remote workers navigate the complexities of the local healthcare system, which can be challenging for individuals who are not familiar with the local language, customs, or practices. By partnering with a local health insurance provider, employers can ensure that their remote workers have access to high-quality healthcare services that are tailored to their unique needs.

  • Comprehensive coverage

Local health insurance plans can provide remote workers with comprehensive coverage for all their healthcare needs. Depending on the plan, local health insurance may include coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, and more. Some local health insurance plans may also offer specialized care, such as mental health services, maternity care, and alternative therapies. By offering comprehensive coverage, employers can help their remote workers stay healthy and productive and reduce the financial burden of healthcare expenses.

  • Convenience

Offering health insurance with a local partner can be convenient for remote workers, as they can access healthcare services and resources that are located nearby. This can save remote workers time and money, as they do not need to travel long distances to access healthcare services or coordinate care with providers in different locations. In addition, local health insurance plans may offer additional benefits, such as wellness programs, health coaching, and discounts on health-related products and services. By providing convenient access to healthcare services, employers can help their remote workers maintain a healthy work-life balance and improve their overall well-being.

1.4.2. When health insurance with a local partner may not be the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Limited flexibility

One of the drawbacks of local health insurance plans is that they may not offer the same level of flexibility as other options, such as health stipends. Remote workers may be limited to the providers and facilities that are included in the plan. This could be a challenge for remote workers who travel frequently or work in multiple locations, as they may need to find alternative providers or pay out-of-pocket for healthcare services that are not covered by the plan.

  • Administrative burden

Partnering with a local health insurance provider can also be administratively burdensome, particularly if the provider is located in a different country or time zone. Employers may need to navigate different regulatory environments, communicate with the provider in a different language, and manage the logistics of paying for the plan and collecting premiums from remote workers.

  • Complexity

Local health insurance plans can be complex and may require additional resources and support to effectively manage and administer. Employers may need to invest in training or hiring staff to manage the plan, and remote workers may need additional support to understand how to use the plan effectively. This complexity can also make it challenging to compare and evaluate different plans, which can make it difficult for employers to ensure that they are offering the best plan for their remote workers.

1.5. Partner with an Employer of Record (EoR)

1 5 - Partner with an Employer of Record (EoR)

An Employer of Record (EoR) is an ideal solution for remote workers who need access to health insurance. The EoR acts as an intermediary between the employer and the employee, handling all administrative tasks associated with providing healthcare coverage. This includes obtaining insurance quotes, enrolling employees into plans, negotiating with providers, and managing billing and payments. 

By partnering with an EoR, employers can ensure that their remote workers have comprehensive and affordable health coverage without having to worry about the complexities of managing it on their own. Additionally, many EoRs offer additional perks such as discounts on wellness products and access to medical specialists – making them a great choice for employers looking for reliable healthcare options for their remote employees.

1.5.1. Why is partnering with an Employer of Record the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Legal compliance

Ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations related to healthcare coverage and employment can be a complex and time-consuming task, particularly for small businesses or those with limited HR resources. An EoR can provide expertise in this area and ensure that the health insurance offered is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. This can help reduce the risk of penalties, fines, or legal liabilities related to non-compliance.

  • Administrative support

Offering health insurance can involve a variety of administrative tasks, such as managing enrollments, processing claims, handling payroll deductions, and compliance reporting. These tasks can be time-consuming and require specialized expertise. An EoR can handle these tasks on behalf of the employer, freeing up their time to focus on other aspects of their business. This can help ensure that the health insurance offered runs smoothly and efficiently.

  • Access to group rates

By partnering with an EoR, employers may be able to access group rates with health insurance providers, which can lower the cost of coverage for remote workers. Group rates are typically lower than individual rates, as they are based on the collective risk of the group rather than the individual risk of each member. This can make health insurance more affordable for remote workers and their employers. An EoR may also be able to negotiate other benefits or discounts with health insurance providers on behalf of their clients.

1.5.2. When partnering with an Employer of Record may not be the best health insurance for remote workers?

  • Limited control

When an employer works with an EoR, they may have limited control over the specific health insurance plans and providers offered to their remote workers. The EoR may have pre-negotiated deals with certain health insurance providers, limiting the options available to employers. This can be challenging for employers who want to provide customized health insurance options that fit their remote workers' specific needs. Additionally, the EoR may have control over the details of the insurance plan, such as the deductible and coverage limits.

  • Additional costs

Employers may also face additional costs when working with an EoR for health insurance offerings. EoRs typically charge fees for their administrative services, which can add to the overall cost of providing health insurance to remote workers. This can be particularly challenging for small businesses or those with limited budgets.

  • Dependence on the EoR

Employers who work with an EoR may become dependent on the provider for managing their health insurance offerings. This can limit their ability to make changes or switch providers in the future, potentially locking them into a specific insurance plan or limiting their flexibility. Additionally, if the EoR goes out of business or faces financial difficulties, it could leave employers and their remote workers without access to health insurance coverage.

2. How to Find the Best Health Insurance for Remote Workers

2.1. Determine Eligibility

The first step is to determine which remote workers are eligible for health insurance coverage based on various factors like location or the worker's status as a full-time or part-time employee. Depending on your company you can come up with personalized eligibility criteria as every company has a different contract in place while working remotely.

As a remote worker, if you are in search of insurance, it is recommended to look for providers who specialize in offering coverage to remote workers or provide plans with flexible options.

2.2. Choose a Plan

Once eligibility has been determined, you need to choose a health insurance plan that meets the needs of your remote workers. This can involve researching and comparing different health insurance providers and plans, taking into account factors such as cost, coverage options, and virtual care offerings.

2.3. Communicate Plan Details:

The next step is to communicate the details of the chosen health insurance plan to the remote workers. This can include information on coverage options, deductibles, copays, and virtual care offerings. As an employer, you need to ensure that your employees understand the details of health insurance coverage.

2.4. Collect Employee Contributions (Optional)

In some cases, you can ask your remote workers to contribute to the cost of their health insurance coverage. This can be done through payroll deductions or other payment methods. However, if you decide to go down this particular path, it is important to ask your employees beforehand.

2.5 Maintain Compliance

When you are picking a health insurance company, you need to ensure that its offerings comply with relevant laws and regulations. This can include requirements related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), state-specific insurance requirements, and other regulations. You may need to work with a broker or consultant to ensure compliance with these requirements.

3. Best Health Insurance Options for Remote Workers

3.1. Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is a popular option for remote workers who need health insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare offers a marketplace where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans that provide comprehensive coverage for individuals and families.

If you are unemployed, you can look at COBRA, which is a federal law that allows employees who have lost their jobs to continue their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage for a limited time. While private health insurance can provide flexible coverage options and a variety of plans to choose from, the costs can vary widely depending on factors such as age, location, and health status.

3.2. Health Sharing Plans

Health sharing plans are an affordable alternative to traditional health insurance. Members of the plan pool their resources to cover each other's medical expenses. This is a good option if you want your partner to be covered in the same insurance plan.

Some of the best Health Sharing plans are netWell Healthshare, Sedera Health, and Universal Healthshare. These plans offer lower monthly premiums than traditional health insurance plans and typically have a high deductible. However, it's important to note that the government does not regulate health-sharing plans like traditional insurance plans, and they may not cover all medical expenses.

3.3. Health Savings Account (HSA) Plans

An HSA is a savings account used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Remote workers can contribute pre-tax dollars to their HSA, which can be used to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. If you are a remote worker who wants to save money on your health insurance premiums while still having coverage for unexpected medical expenses, this is the plan for you.

HSAs typically have lower monthly premiums and allow you to save for future medical expenses. However, HSAs require a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), which means you'll pay more out-of-pocket before insurance coverage kicks in.

3.4. International Health Insurance

For remote workers who travel internationally, international health insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses while abroad. If you travel and work outside the United States, this is the plan for you. There are plenty of companies that can help you out with this. Our top picks are Cigna Global, GeoBlue Xplore, and IMG Global Medical Insurance.

These plans offer comprehensive coverage for medical expenses, including emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, and other travel-related benefits. However, international health insurance can be more expensive than traditional health insurance plans, so it's important to consider the costs and coverage options carefully.

4. FAQs

4.1 How do remote workers get health insurance?

Remote workers can get health insurance through a variety of options, including traditional health insurance plans, international health insurance, health stipends, or through a local partner or Employer of Record (EoR).

4.2 What benefits do remote workers get?

Remote workers can receive a range of benefits depending on their employer's policies and offerings. Some common benefits include flexible work schedules, remote work allowances, professional development opportunities, and wellness programs.

4.3 What are the top benefits for remote workers?

The top benefits for remote workers typically include flexibility, autonomy, work-life balance, reduced commuting time and costs, increased productivity, and cost savings from working remotely. Other popular benefits may include health and wellness programs, professional development opportunities, and access to technology and equipment.

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