Thursday, May 3, 2012

Options to Supplement Health Care Coverage for US Military Veterans Guest Post by Sara Mackey

( - There is a general and often erroneous assumption that acting military personnel and veterans receive health insurance and medical care from the government in a "no questions asked, whatever you need" fashion. The situation is actually much more complicated, and just as many veterans are searching for affordable supplemental health premiums online as any other class of insurance consumer.

The Basics of the TRICARE Program

All veterans and active duty military personnel can receive health insurance through the United States Department of Defense via the TRICARE program established in 1966. TRICARE is not actually an insurance agency, but rather a managed health care system using both the medical resources of the armed forces and medical networks outside the military structure.

The coverage is offered at three levels: prime, extra, and standard. In response to the passage of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there is also a Young Adult program, which extends coverage to children of qualified participants up to age 26, as per the requirements of the health care law.

Tiered TRICARE Structure Offers Varied Benefits

At the prime TRICARE level treatment occurs mainly at military facilities and is overseen by a primary care manager. The costs are the lowest in this model, but veterans must be enrolled and pay a fee to participate. TRICARE Extra does not involve a fee, but does carry an annual deductible.

Standard, the most flexible of the three options, operates on the fee-for-service model and allows policyholders to select from a range of authorized providers. There are no annual fees or enrollment requirement and TRICARE Standard can be used in tandem with TRICARE Extra and with other health insurance. Deductibles and co-payments do apply.

Veterans and Supplemental Insurance

Often veterans can draw on other sources of insurance, for instance, coverage that is available to them as a job benefit either from their own employment or that of their spouse. It's also a good idea for veterans to carry auto insurance policies that include medical benefits in the aftermath of an accident as it may be easier and faster to access those payments than it would be working through the TRICARE system.

In this regard, veterans do not really differ from any other kind of insurance consumer except that TRICARE provide a foundation on which they can create a comprehensive and affordable overall coverage umbrella. The goal is always to address potential gaps in coverage, especially if the vet has a disability as a consequence of service and will require lifetime care and therapy.

TRICARE has also protected veterans from the tendency of private insurers to exclude for pre-existing conditions by existing exclusively to care for men and women injured in the service of their country. Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, veterans will continue to enjoy this safety net.

Every veteran faces a unique situation in regard to supplemental insurance with all manner of factors effecting the decision. For instance, if a veteran lives at a considerable distance from a military care facility, supplemental insurance might be necessary to cover care at a civilian facility until transfer could be arranged. These are the kinds of things that must be considered in conjunction with affordability and need when considering supplemental policies.


Kirk said...

I just went to the TRICare website as I am a veteran of Desert Storm and based on the q&a I don't see how I can get this service that the blog speaks of for Veterans?

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