You’re finally ready to retire from the military (congratulations!) and now, instead of the government deciding where you have to live, it’s up to you. When picking your “forever home” location, it’s important to consider your current and future medical needs. Here are five things to think about when you’re determining where to live after military retirement.
QUALITY OF HEALTHCARE
Whether you’re as healthy as a horse right now or you have some medical-related needs, understanding the quality of the healthcare in your new area is imperative. What are the hospitals like? What are the specialty services offered? Some specialty services to consider include cardiology, orthopedics, cancer treatment centers, and physical therapy.
When researching hospitals, we recommend you look at the hospital’s Star rating, assessed by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. According to CMS.gov, the Overall Hospital Quality Star rating summarizes a variety of measures across five areas of quality into a single star rating for each hospital. Once reporting thresholds are met, a hospital’s overall star rating is calculated using only those measures for which data are available. The average is about 37 measures. Hospitals report data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Overall star ratings aren’t calculated for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or Department of Defense (DoD) hospitals.
The star rating is based on a number of factors, including: Mortality, Safety of Care, Readmission, Patient Experience, Timely & Effective Care
In 2020, VA officials moved away from a star system, and instead, now post measures such as patient satisfaction ratings, medical services, quality assessments, and wait times on their individual websites. You can compare VA patient survey ratings with private hospitals’ on https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare/. Patient satisfaction scores are based on survey results of recently discharged patients, who were asked about important topics like how well nurses and doctors communicated, how responsive hospital staff were to their needs, and the cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment.
ACCESSIBILITY OF HEALTHCARE
If you’re a patient in the VA system, you’ll want to assess how long it takes to get routine screenings as well as emergency care. No matter where you’re seen, you’ll also want to know how long it will take to get to different facilities. If you break a hip in 10 years and need to be in physical therapy three times a week, an hour drive each way is a hurdle you might not want to face.
How far away is the nearest emergency room? What about urgent care? Pharmacies? Accessibility is just as important as quality – – if you can’t get the treatment or care you need, the skillsets of the doctors on staff won’t even come into play.
AVAILABILITY OF SENIOR SERVICES
Just as it’s important to be near a hospital, it’s also important to understand what kind of senior services are available in your area. Some questions to consider: Are there health clubs with senior programs in the area? Are there assisted living facilities near you? What about in-home health care providers? Does your potential community have senior transportation services if you’re unable to drive? We know none of these things might be on your mind now, but making these decisions for “future you” will reap benefits down the road.
COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE
The cost of health insurance varies widely depending on your home of record. If you retire before the age of 65 or don’t have insurance provided through your workplace, you’ll need to purchase an open-market plan. While it’s impossible to tell what healthcare will look like in 10+ years, it’s important to research current rates to have an idea of what you’ll need to budget for, depending on where you live.
PROXIMITY TO FAMILY
Finally, consider your family and how they play into your long-term health care planning is important. Maybe you’ll need to rely on your daughter to take you to appointments or your son to mow your lawn (you’ve certainly earned it!). If nothing else, grandkids visiting you regularly can do wonders for your mental health. Living close to family is an important factor in determining where you want to be.
Retirement is an adventure. Finding affordable and accessible healthcare at your new location doesn’t need to be. Doing your healthcare homework before you decide where to live is important for your future quality of life. Once you have determined the location that best fits your health needs, then you’ll be ready to buy your “forever home.”
By PCSgrades Staff