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Old 02-26-2010, 09:18 PM
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,034,362 times
Reputation: 7701


Since I'm a 100% disabled Vet, all my health care, including dental, vision and prescriptions, is totally free at the VA.

It's a clinic based health care system and, once you learn how to navigate it, the care is exceptional. I have no complaints whatsoever. I understand that's not always the case, depending upon where you are, but I've had to visit VA Medical Centers in other parts of the country and have been treated just fine.

My wife has ChampVA, which is more like a regular insurance program. She sees her own doctor and pays a small co-pay. Her medicines are subsidized too. There are no premiums for her to pay.

We're both quite satisfied. In fact, I feel blessed to have it at this age and can't say enough good about both systems.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:25 PM
Location: Forests of Maine
29,723 posts, read 47,495,927 times
Reputation: 17577
I am retired Navy.

During my 20+ year career I was treated by the MilMed for free. My wife and children were all treated for free. It was usually done by corpsmen. Most often they hand you Motrin, regardless of the complaint.

Once I was out snow-skiing, I busted up my hand. The doctor there x rayed it and said that I had 7 compaction fractures of my metacarpals, and my wrist-joint was separated. He did what he could and I went back to the Navy. When I told the corpsmen that I had broken my arm, I got one of the biggest chewing-outs of my entire career. How dare I, someone with no medical background, tell a corpsman with 6-weeks of training how to diagnose a problem. After 2 weeks of messing around, and horrible pain, I was finally sent to a civilian doctor, who set my bones and got it straightened out.

Once I got some brass stuck in my eye. It was sticking out, I could not close my eyelids I had this thing sticking out. I was taken to Milmed and 2 Optometrists tried poking it with needles. They said that they were afraid that my pupil would pop out so they stopped. I was offered that I could wait there, the next week they could transport me to a different hospital that had an ophthalmologist, he should be able to remove the brass and if my pupil came loose he would have the skill [in theory] to replace it. We talked with them and finally they did mention that off-base was a civilian ophthalmologist nearby. So I got a ride from a buddy off-base to that civilian. I went right in, and in less then 10 minutes he had the brass removed, I paid him $30 and was done. The Navy was not about to even offer me a ride to the surgeon. I seriously doubt that I would have vision in my right eye today, if I had gone along with the Milmed.

What I was told on my last boat [by our boat corpsmen], was to go to a civilian doctor for a diagnosis and pay cash. Then bring his diagnosis and treatment protocol back to MilMed and slip it into your medical record. Then ask for a follow-up appointment, tell them that you had been sent to a civilian specialist and now having returned you are ready to begin treatment. MilMed will follow whatever the civilian doctor has written. It is one way to get seen by medical personnel who attended college, instead of corpsmen. [The corpsmen who told me this, was my buddy].

With free medical care you get exactly what you pay for.

Now I live far away from any military bases, I use a Tricare underwriter called Martins Point. I see local civilian doctors, all of them have been to college and med school. Very professional and they seem to know what they are doing. This is a much better level of care.
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:02 PM
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 4,494,638 times
Reputation: 2363
My husband served for 20 years and during that time received "adequate" healthcare for himself and our family from on-base medical facilities. The base facilities were run on a first-come (or first appointment-line call), first served basis. It bothered me to see military doctors because as soon as we found one that we liked, they'd be PCSed or deployed and then you'd have to go over your entire history yet again with a new doctor. We were able to get immediate care when we were sick, but standard wellness checkups had to be scheduled no later than 3 months in advance. I had my calendar marked "make appointment" when the 3 month window was coming up.

When he retired, we went on TriCare Prime for retirees. It costs us just under $500 per year and we pay up to $9 for our prescriptions, $3 for generics. He just had surgery on his knee last month and we paid a $25 co-pay and then pay $12 for regular doctor visits.

Someone said before and I think the same rules apply whether you're in a civilian healthcare system like Humana or a military-run healthcare system like TriCare. You have to decide what kind of care you want and how much you're willing to pay to get it.

For us, TriCare Prime made sense and because we live in a large metropolitan area, the list of primary care doctors was extensive. We went to a few we didn't like and eventually found excellent care for myself, my husband and our children. We understand the rules...primary care doctor first, then get a referral, wait for the referral, make an appointment with the specialist, see the specialist, keep up with the paperwork trail on the TriCare website. We call immediately if we notice something is "off" but have found excellent care with exceptional doctors and are absolutely happy with our civilian doctors.

We also appreciate that the TriCare staff who takes our calls seem eager to help us when we get a strange bill from a hospital or if it seems we are being overcharged. We had that problem with an anesthesiologist when I had my daughter who TriCare paid, but we later got a bill for $1400 because they said that TriCare didn't pay enough. We worked with TriCare and it took about 7 weeks, but eventually the calls stopped and TriCare called us to let us know it was taken care of.

I don't have any complaints but we also took the time to understand how to navigate the system and weren't afraid to go through the paperwork in order to change our primary care doctors if we weren't happy.

We don't have any experience with the VA facilities as my husband goes to our civilian doctor for his medical needs (even though he gets 30% VA disability).
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