Military.com

Healthcare Choices When You Separate or Retire

This content is provided courtesy of USAA

By J.J. MontanaroUSAA Certified Financial Planner® Practitioner

It seems like only yesterday I made that leap from military life to the civilian world. While I know it can be an exciting time, for me there were a lot of question marks and uncertainty surrounding the big move of taking off that uniform. Many of the benefits I took for granted on active duty now fell squarely in my lap — like health insurance.

If you're separating from service, but not retiring, the healthcare you may have griped about — but was always there — becomes a thing of the past and you're now facing some significant financial implications. I still remember the shock I felt when I found out having a child was going to cost us $2,200 — and that was 13 years ago!

Pre-existing Condition: A medical condition or diagnosis that existed — or was treated — before your health insurance coverage began. It may affect whether you can get coverage or care for a specific condition. Premium: Regular payments you make in order to have insurance coverage or belong to an HMO. Primary Care Physician (PCP):  With HMO, POS, and PPO plans the PCP is your "go-to" physician. He or she will have to be consulted prior to seeing specialists within the network of providers. Sometimes known as the "gatekeeper."All right, so you've narrowed your search and picked two or three plans to compare. How do you decide?  Obviously, overall costs (the premium and other out-of-pocket costs) play a big role, but don't forget the following factors:

  • Financial Peace of Mind: You certainly want your insurance to be there, when you need it. The last thing you need in the middle of a health crisis is to see your insurance company go under!
  • Waiting Periods:  Some coverages may not protect you or your family right away, so make sure you have a plan for the interim. Also, coverage of preexisting conditions can vary from plan to plan. Obviously a shorter waiting period is better.
  • High Benefit Ceiling:  This is the lifetime limit to how much the policy will payout. You should get a policy where this number is in the millions.

Hopefully, this primer starts you down the path to making an informed decision when it comes to your healthcare. The right plan is a cornerstone of your financial security.