Health care is one of the top policy concerns for military and veteran families. According to recent findings of the Blue Star Families’ annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey, access to and quality of health care are high priorities for veterans and their families.
Blue Star Families fields its Military Family Lifestyle Survey each year to learn more about the experiences and challenges military families face. The research project, now in its tenth year, is the largest and most comprehensive survey of active duty service members, veterans and their families.
According to this year’s survey, military families rate health care as the #1 national policy concern, and veteran families rate it as the second most important behind veterans’ benefits. When it comes to health care, military families and veterans are focused on alternative care options for spouses and access to mental health services.
“While service members, veterans and their spouses are generally satisfied with their health care options, there are a number of ways they believe care could be improved,” said Dr. Jessica Strong, Applied Research Analyst at Blue Star Families. “Veterans are looking for improvements to the types of services of care offered and to obtaining appointments when they need them, and active duty military list continuity of care – especially when relocation occurs – as an area in need of improvement.”
Medicaid serves nearly two million veterans, and their families rely on the program when they are unable to access the care they need through military or veterans’ benefits. According to a 2018 report from the Tricare for Kids Coalition, about 3.4 million children of veterans are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, and 200,000 children of active military members use Medicaid to supplement TRICARE coverage.
“A lot of people are shocked to hear that Medicaid plays a role for serving military families and veterans and their families,” said Karen Ruedisueli, Government Relations Deputy Director of the National Family Military Association, a Modern Medicaid Alliance member. “But for medically complex family members, military care options often do not fill all of the needs and Medicaid can play a very important role.”
She also noted that military families sometimes struggle with access to Medicaid, which can supplement military-offered coverage. The program is critical during times of transition for veterans and military families – especially if employment is slow to come and health care options are limited.
Finally, Ruedisueli said Medicaid is a valuable tool to help meet complex health and home- and community-based care needs, since this kind of coverage must be re-applied for when families move to another state. These services ensure veterans and their families can continue to live at home while facing physical or mental health care challenges.
More information about how Medicaid helps meet the health care needs of veterans and military families can be found at ModernMedicaid.org.