Is Healthcare a Concern as You Transition from the Military?

As you transition from the military into civilian life you might be asking, “When it comes to healthcare where do I start?”

So many of us transition out of the military and want to take care of our families and ourselves. Although we previously had healthcare in the military, we now have to find new healthcare amongst so many confusing options. 

In the military it didn’t matter what rank we were, our healthcare was consistent, and we all got the same healthcare.

After coaching transitioning veterans for the past 20 years I noticed a commonality amongst them. They have all said, “I had absolutely no choice in the military, but now there are so many options I am overwhelmed.”

  • What choices will get you comparable healthcare from the military?
  • What choices will be better?
  • Do you want to pay a high premium and lower cost when you use the care OR lower premium and higher cost when you use the care?
  • Is healthcare the same in different states and countries?

I have some clients that just get the least expensive healthcare and are willing to take risks; while other clients may have a family and need to be set up for the future. Either way, you will need to make the best decision for you and your health. It is important for you to know the factors that influence the cost of healthcare, as well as what you do and don’t need in your plan.

After I got out of the military, I did the research in order to make the right decisions for me and my wife. My wife and I were able to have my daughter at no cost to us. When we made the best decision for our family we felt proud, taken care of, and stress-free.

When I was in the military it didn’t matter how long someone was in, the healthcare was a set package. You had a premium and you paid a certain price for the medicine. There was no room for choice and no room for error. You had access to what was there and got your needs met.

Suddenly, you are out of the military, and your needs are not taken care of. Now you are either paying too much for what you need or not enough with the consequences of not being covered.

When working with my clients they have assumed, “my employer will pay for it. They will provide me with a great plan.” Time and time again they find a job that could suit their skills and be right for them, yet their employers are not obligated to provide healthcare. In some cases when the healthcare is provided, it often does not start for a minimum of 90 days.

Researching and deciding on healthcare as part of your transition does not have to be hard or bad, it just needs to be something you are ready to deal with. Know that even though things are not lined up for you yet, you can have someone to support you in the entire transition process. This process includes picking the right healthcare.

The first thing I tell my clients is that their employer can dictate premiums, office visits, specialty visits vs office visits. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, yet you do have to ask.

You have to go out there and know what you want, the benefits of each, and make the best decisions for your family.

  1. Ask your employer if they offer health care benefits and what the health care benefits are. Research what is out there before you settle for a certain healthcare that may or may not protect your family. Compare Kaiser and other larger companies within the health care system in the military so you are prepared.
  2. With the research at hand, be willing to negotiate with your employer about what they offer and the amount they will pay toward healthcare. You pay for healthcare with pretax dollars, so it is a benefit for the company and yourself to have more of your healthcare be paid then it is to give you more money in your check. Know if that is right for you and your family. 
  3. Know what to ask and what they are going to provide:
    1. Do they offer health care insurance?
    2. What type of health care insurance do they offer?
    3. Employer/employee ratio – how much does each pay? 75/25% split
    4. When we have children, do we keep the same doctor?
    5. How much would it cost to go with a specialist? 
  4. When you get these questions answered, work the money into your budget before you say yes. Your budget matters. Be aware and proactive so you have the care you need and it fits in your budget.

Finding the right job that matches your healthcare needs is not only important, it is the right decision to consider. Not only are you looking for a job that has transferable skills from the military to civilian life, you are looking for the right healthcare. There are options out there. You might even not take a job or might choose the employer because of the health care benefits they can give you and your family.

Think through what works for you! It is a factor if the job is right for you. Should this be a part of the equation? Maybe the employer doesn’t offer healthcare, but they offer other benefits for you and your family. You will find an employer that is going to offer what works for you. Make sure it is what you want. Make sure you understand what you had in the military and what your needs are now as a family.

I have coached transition veterans for 20 years and I want to help you make the right and best decisions for you and your family.

Kevin Tucker is CEO of Career Transition Development and has been trained by The Coaches Training Institute. A professional coach since 2004, Kevin has produced unprecedented breakthrough results with a wide spectrum of clients across the country. He is a 20-year career veteran with the U.S. Air Force and now serves as a veteran advocate. He can be reached at

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