Just like many other aspects of the military world, choosing what type of medical provider to use for your family can be a confusing and tricky process and there are pros and cons to choosing military treatment facilities vs. civilian providers. Here are some of the factors to consider when deciding what type of provider is the right fit for your family:
One of the most obvious, but also possibly the most important factor to consider is location. If you live on base, nothing can beat the convenience of having access to a military treatment facility possibly just a few minutes from your doorstep. But, if you live twenty minutes or more from base, choosing an on post facility may be a major inconvenience for you and you’d be better off finding a local civilian provider that would be best for your family. You have to decide if you’d rather be trapped in the car for any longer that absolutely necessary with your kids and maybe even a dog, or just find a nice doc nearby and save everyone a major headache.
2. Wait Times.
While a military treatment facility can be convenient for those living on post, a drawback many of you have probably experienced when going to a military medical provider is agonizingly long wait times. There are a limited amount of providers on base which often means the wait times to see a doctor can be frustratingly long. However, if you go to a civilian provider, you might be able to be more selective with the office you go to and the doctor you see, and receive quicker, more personalized attention.
The real question we’re all asking though: what is going to save that cash money? While the wait times at on base military treatment facilities can be arduous, the cost may offset the inconvenience. When you go on base the whole cost of your medical bill is typically covered or at the very least, billed to you at a reduced rate. Civilian providers are generally not held subject to the same pricing structure as military providers and therefore can charge you much higher rates, a percentage of which may not be covered by your insurance. You definitely want to compare rates before choosing your doctor.
4. Specialized Providers.
If you or a family member require a specialized medical provider or expert, you will more than likely need to choose a civilian provider as military treatment facilities on base are often limited to generalized medical providers. Again, do your research – ask questions and find out what doctors will cover the services you need. If you need help finding answers, Military OneSource is a great place to start.
Most importantly, choose a medical provider that you trust and feel you have a good rapport with, whether that be a provider at a military treatment facility or at a civilian office. It’s crucial you choose a provider that you trust with your family’s health and well being, because at the end of the day, that’s what is at stake!