During my transition from active duty to the civilian world I found myself in the position of deciding just how I would procure health insurance for my family and I. As a uniform wearing Marine my healthcare was covered by the local aid station, clinic, or hospital, but once I hung it all up that option vanished when my ID card switched from “Active” to “Retired”.
I have never had to make such a decision before; after all, medical care was part of the benefits package for those in uniform. Fortunately, at my local Naval Hospital there was a TRICARE service center. In the TRICARE service center was a real live human being who was both cheerful and helpful, and after spending a half hour or so with her I was able to make the right decisions and sign up for TRICARE Prime so that both my family and I would be covered once my HMMWV chariot turned into a pumpkin.
Unfortunately, that service center and the 188 others that are spread across the continental United States will be closing next year. They will be replaced by a call center. Although TRICARE states that customers will receive better service by calling a 1-800 number I somehow doubt it. There is nothing like sitting down with a real person to get your questions fully answered.
Sadly the cheerful and helpful lady who helped me out will likely be out of a job next year. Although TRICARE administrators project a $250 million savings by cutting the centers, the cost in terms of jobs and true customer satisfaction are going to be high.
At least in my humble opinion.
What about the homeless and unemployed veterans – how will they acquire insurance?