Medical aid is a necessary part of life today for many people. In the United States, there is much controversy over this provision and the often very high costs to individuals when it comes to health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. This, however, is usually not a problem for troops and veterans because the military in the United States provides healthcare benefits to active and retired service members and their families.
Government Funded Aid
The United States Department of Defense includes the Military Health System, which has an annual budget of at least $50 billion. The aim of this system is to ensure that military personnel are healthy; which includes checking that those who want to enlist in the military are healthy enough to do so. The system is heavily invested in keeping active troops healthy. So much so that when troops are deployed, many doctors, nurses and army medics accompany them and field hospitals are quickly set up.
Starting in 1966 the Military Health System (MHS) also began providing healthcare to the dependents of military personnel. This was originally instituted through a program known as Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), which later became known as TRICARE. There are various options available under TRICARE, the system in place today and what military personnel would sign up for.
The TRICARE system is fairly similar to a health management organization (HMO), in which a pre-approved list of healthcare providers take preference over non-approved ones. Military personnel are most likely to get treated at a military hospital, but they can choose to go elsewhere if it is approved under the TRICARE system. This means that individuals have to check the list first in order to ensure that they do not have to pay for treatment. This military health system is believed to be one of the best and most comprehensive in the world and is one of the perks of being enlisted in the military.
Most veterans also receive access to this healthcare under TRICARE, though the active members of the military do take precedence. However, there has been controversy over the waiting times that veterans have had to endure to get access to care at these hospitals, which has led to some debate on whether the system is underfunded nowadays and if it truly lives up to its fame.
The MHS has around 65 hospitals in the country and over 400 general and dental clinics that veterans can use. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years it has been subject to even more controversy and scrutiny as the MHS does not provide completely free contraception for women. This was in response to the Affordable Care Act which was introduced into the law in 2010.
Most veterans can qualify for TRICARE if they have served in any branch of the military. It is important to note that a person who has been dishonorably discharged or who was a National Guard member that has not done any active service is not eligible.