I live, practice, and raise a family in a town with lots of military. We have the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force base, Schriever Air Force base, Fort Carson Army Base, NORAD, and a large VA clinic. One of the benefits to being in the military is that you get ‘free’ healthcare. If you have an ache, pain, ill, or spill, you’re taken care of.
But just like all American healthcare systems, it’s great at emergency care but really, really sucks at chronic conditions, which is 80% of healthcare spending. And here’s the bill of lies you’ve been sold. “You will be taken care of…but our only tool box is emergency interventions of drugs and surgery…and it’s all free.”
The major problem, especially for functional medicine practices like mine is that military people are seeking care, looking to get well with tools the military can’t or doesn’t provide, BUT expects it all to covered for by the military. It’s doesn’t work that way.
You can’t expect to quite your job, get yourself in serious gambling debt, live on the streets, and expect your former employer to bail you out. This goes for any government sponsored insurance plan. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have the attention to detail, level of expertise, and a more comprehensive set of tools in the functional medicine practitioner’s tool box…and expect your insurance to fit the bill.
I am immensely thankful you have chosen to serve this country so I can pursue my passion of helping busy professionals regain their productivity and life enjoyment from the ill effects of being overburdened and under supported in their health outcomes by creating individualized health programs. But the benefit you were sold on, that all your healthcare needs will be met, just isn’t true. Your healthcare needs will be met if you desire medication and surgery. Again, these interventions are great for emergency and event based problems but have proven extremely poor when it comes to meeting the needs of chronic illness.
A Not-Totally-Thought-Out-Option for Military Health Care
This is a hypothetical but if I were in charge of providing healthcare for everyone in the military, I would implement an HSA (Health Savings Account) system for your needs. Every plan would come with a $5,000 deductible for the family. I would fund the first $5,000 of that deductible in an HSA your first year of service. Every year after, maybe add an additional amount like $2,500. If you needed emergency or event based care, you could get that care on base, at no hit to your deductible. Broken bones, surgeries, labor and delivery, etc are all covered on base 100%.
If you want to be in charge of your health needs (treatment and prevention of chronic illness), you are more than welcome to go to any provider you wish and use that HSA money as you please. If you don’t use those funds that year, that money grows and adds an additional investment portfolio to your assets, just like any HSA. As you stay healthy, you can can accumulate a good chunk of money.
This is just a thought at the top of my head. I haven’t thought out the details of active duty vs. retired benefits. I haven’t run the numbers if this would even be sustainable. I’m not an economist, but it’s an idea that would give more access to treatment options that would create more health.