In many ways, it seems like only yesterday that I made the decision to take off my uniform and make the leap from military life to the civilian world. While I remember it being an exciting time, I also felt a little uncertain about the road ahead and needed some answers. For starters, many of the benefits I took for granted on active duty now fell squarely in my lap — like health insurance. What was I going to do about that?
If you're separating from service but not retiring, the health care you may have griped about — but was always there — becomes a thing of the past. Health insurance will now become your responsibility and with it will come some significant financial implications.
To help ease your transition, let's look at what the military makes available as you shift to civilian life.
Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP)
The Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) offers transitional TRICARE coverage to certain separating active duty members and their eligible family members. TRICARE eligibility under the TAMP is good for up to 180 days. See our Transitional Assistance Management Program page for details.
Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP)
After the TAMP eligibility expires, you or a family member may apply for temporary, transitional medical coverage under the Continued Health Care Benefit Program. CHCBP is a premium-based health care program providing medical coverage to a select group of former military beneficiaries. CHCBP is similar to, but not part of, TRICARE. See our Continued Health Care Benefit Plan page for details.
Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Benefits
Finally, you may choose to use the VA for health care benefits. Generally, the VA will only provide care for the service member. The VA prioritizes care based on a number of factors including financial need. Generally, VA health care is limited to medical conditions that were incurred as a result of your military service, however there are exceptions. See our Veterans Health Care Overview page for details.
In the end, leaving the military can be an exciting time, but don't get so caught up in the excitement (or overwhelmed!) that you lose sight of some important details. When it comes to health care, there's only one non-negotiable: protecting you and your family.