Healthcare Benefits After Separation
One aspect of life that military members don’t have to worry about is healthcare benefits while they are serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, whether it be the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard. Their healthcare is a part of the advantage of serving the country.
But once they lace up their boots one last time and separate from the military, the healthcare does not automatically go with them. Veterans must apply for healthcare benefits through the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, many veterans and disabled veterans alike are unaware of their healthcare benefits.
Today, Empire Resume will address the most common healthcare benefits after military service, whether you’re recently separated, retired, or a disabled veteran and show you where to go for guidance.
VA Healthcare Benefits
It is important to note that VA healthcare benefits are not automatically given. A veteran must be eligible for VA healthcare benefits.
The service member’s status upon separation depends on what they are eligible for. For example, according to the VA:
- If you’re retiring after 20+ years of experience, you’re eligible for TRICARE. You may also qualify for certain VA health care benefits.
- If you’re separating from service due to a service-connected illness or injury, you may be eligible for VA health care benefits and certain TRICARE benefits.
- If you’re an OEF/OIF/OND combat Veteran who has just returned from service, you can receive free medical care for any condition related to your service in Iraq or Afghanistan for 5 years after discharge.
To apply for healthcare through the VA and discover more information concerning this benefit, visit the VA Healthcare site.
Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP)
In the event a service member needs to leave the military unexpectedly, TAMP provides 6 months or 180 days of transitional healthcare benefits at no cost to the service member, after regular TRICARE benefits expire.
TAMP’s benefits kick in upon separation from the military. These benefits are similar to the healthcare benefits the service member and dependents receives while on active duty.
This program has eligibility requirements as well, such as having an honorable discharge. If the service member qualifies, he or she will receive DoD issued ID cards for access to the healthcare facilities on the local military installation. Family members who are dependents will receive ID cards as well.
TAMP’s eligibility is documented in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility System (DEERS) and can also be viewed on MilConnect.
To find out if you’re eligible for TAMP, visit the Transitional Management Assistance Program website.
Disabled Veterans’ Healthcare
A veteran’s disability rating determines the range of healthcare benefits he or she receives.
For example, if you have at least a 50% disability rating, you can get full access to healthcare without copays.
With a 100% disability rating, hearing aids, eye exams and glasses are included with VA Healthcare. Just in case you need assistance discovering what specific benefits apply to you, your condition and your disability rating, check out the link to the service connected matrix to view the benefits and directives.
Additionally, always be sure to check out the Veterans Affairs Offices website for more details concerning benefits in your respective state.
Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP)
If you’re a civilian and you’ve heard of COBRA Health Insurance, think of Continued Health Care Benefit Program as the COBRA plan for those who are leaving the military.
Once the service member transitions out of the military and loses TRICARE benefits, the CHCBP plays the health insurance role until the former service member can find his or a civilian healthcare plan.
Some benefits of the CHCBP include:
- Temporary coverage for up to 18 to 36 months.
- The same coverage as TRICARE select, including prescriptions.
The CHCBP can be purchased within 60 days of the loss of TAMP or 30 days of expiration of TRICARE benefits.
For more information, visit the Continued Health Care Benefit Program webpage and reach out to your local personnel office.
Civilian Healthcare Insurance
If for any reason a veteran does not meet the eligibility requirements for VA healthcare, TRICARE, or the programs we discussed above, many veterans soon adapt to civilian life and find their own healthcare plan.
A separated service member may be able to receive healthcare insurance through an employer-sponsored healthcare plan. Additionally, healthcare insurance can be purchased through the Affordable Care Act at healthcare.gov.
Low-income veterans may be eligible for Medicaid, a state and federal program. Any veteran interested in Medicaid should look to their state’s government website for guidance.
Bottom Line: Stay Covered
To wrap up, always keep these options in mind to help make sure you stay covered after separation from service obligation:
- Review VA Healthcare benefits eligibility;
- Sign up for Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP), if necessary;
- For a service-connected disability, check out disabled veterans’ healthcare;
- Try purchasing the Continued Healthcare Benefit Program (CHCBP)
- Find a civilian healthcare plan on your own; and finally,
- Sign up for Medicaid, if low-income.
Although federal law does not require citizens to carry health insurance, some states may require it in order to avoid tax penalties.
Besides, health insurance is always good to have. We never know when a medical emergency can occur. And, with the COVID-19 pandemic, you want to be able to get the best treatment possible to meet your healthcare needs. The bottom line is to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay covered, if possible.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.