For the average, working-class civilian, health insurance can be quite expensive. Granted, the majority of Americans are able to get health insurance on their jobs, yet they may not have access to full coverage. The movie John Q perfectly illustrates such a situation, when the father does not have enough insurance to pay for his son’s heart operation. Yet, for active-duty military men and women, health insurance is not a problem. In fact, it is the excellent medical benefits one gets while in the military that makes enlisting quite attractive.
Military medical benefits can be broken down into two categories: health coverage for the soldier and health coverage for their families. In terms of the soldier, health coverage is covered 100% even if the soldier is not on active duty, (though they will still need to be training or doing their jobs on base). For the families coverage is given through a health insurance program known as Tricare. This benefit is available for free when soldiers are deployed or otherwise on active-duty, though Tricare leaders are starting to consider providing no-cost coverage during other times. Either way, through Tricare military family members get full medical benefits, including office visits, dental care and hospitalization.
In order to use Tricare, soldiers and their families must use the medical facilities on base, otherwise they will have to pay a fee to cover out-of-network services. Generally, unless one has a doctor or hospital that they are particularly fond of, using what is on base is good enough. Most military hospitals are just as good if not better than what is available for civilians. The staff are friendly, well-trained and very efficient. The facilities themselves are clean and what one typically expects of a hospital environment.
However, when it comes to general office visits, there may be a slight wait before a person gets seen. There is also a wait when it’s time to buy prescription drugs. Of course, the dreaded wait may also occur with civilian-based medical facilities. So, that in and of itself should not turn a person away from fully considering the value of Tricare.
Another interesting element of military healthcare is the Fisher Housing system. This is lodging that is available for families of military personnel who have been injured. If they cannot get treated at their local military hospital, they will be sent to Walter Reed Medical Center, where the Fisher Houses are located. Military families stay in these houses free of charge as their loved ones are recovering. Although there is a waiting list for the houses, it is still nice to know that they even exist in the first place. Without them family members not near the Walter Reed Medical Center would have to spend extra money for transportation and hotel lodging any time they wanted to visit their injured loved one.
In conclusion, when it comes to medical benefits, the best are available through the military. Indeed, as long as a soldier is on active-duty, neither they nor their families will have to worry about their healthcare costs.