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How to obtain health insurance after military service

Generally, military health insurance ends the day you leave. Knowing which plans you qualify for now, and how costs and coverage vary, can help make sure you and your family are protected.

If you want to keep your TRICARE plan

If you are retiring from the military, you will continue to qualify for TRICARE. Otherwise, coverage ends when your military service ends. However, there are some options if you want to keep the plan. These options are generally designed as a transition between TRICARE and your future coverage.

Continuing Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP)

This program offers the same TRICARE plan coverage you had during your active duty service, but you pay for it out-of-pocket. Premiums change each year. For example, in 2022 the monthly cost was $551 for individuals and $1,360 for families. Most servicemembers and their families qualify for 18 months of coverage, and some may qualify for 36 months. Upon leaving the military, you have 60 days to enroll in the CHCBP. Coverage applies retroactively from the day your military benefits end.

Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP).

This program provides up to 180 days of health care benefits to members of the armed forces who have been honorably but involuntarily separated from active duty under certain circumstances. Members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who are separating for a period of more than 30 consecutive days of active duty in support of a specific mission or operation also qualify. You do not have to pay any premium for the TAMP program. To find out if you qualify, visit the TRICARE website.

National Guard

If you join the National Guard after separating from active duty, you and your family may still qualify for the TRICARE plan. Coverage will depend on your service status.

Major Sources of Health Care Coverage

TRICARE provides coverage to about 2.8 percent of the U.S. population. Most people get their insurance through a combination of:

Employer-provided plans:

  • 54.4%


  • 18.4%


  • 17.8%

Direct purchase:

  • 10.5%

Employer Coverage

Once you do not qualify for TRICARE extensions, the most common option is coverage through an employer. Companies with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance, and many smaller companies do as well. The employer pays a portion, and you usually pay a premium that is automatically deducted from your paycheck on a pre-tax basis. In 2021, employees paid on average about $100 a month for individual coverage and $500 a month for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If your spouse or live-in partner has health insurance through your job, you may also be able to enroll in his or her plan, depending on the employer’s policy.

Health Insurance Marketplace

If your employer does not offer health insurance, visit Also known as an insurance marketplace or exchange, this service offered by the federal government helps people find health insurance and enroll in it. Depending on your income, you may qualify for subsidies or tax credits to help with the cost. If you don’t qualify, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars a month for individual coverage and more than $1,000 a month for family coverage. Some states run their own insurance exchanges. If you live in one of those states, will direct you to your state’s insurance exchange.

You can also buy your insurance directly from an insurance or health care company. This option may give you access to a wider network of doctors, but will not qualify for subsidies or tax credits.

Quick Tip
When shopping for health insurance, keep in mind that the plans with the lowest premiums may not be the least expensive. You should also consider what the plan requires you to pay for doctor visits, lab tests, prescriptions and other health care. If you have a health condition that requires ongoing medical care, you may be better off with a plan with higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket payments.

Veterans Health Administration (VHA)

Although not technically insurance, health care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may be an option. If you were on active duty within the military and separated under conditions that do not include dishonor, you may qualify for Veterans Affairs (VA) health care. More information on who qualifies can be found on the Veterans Affairs Administration website.
In most cases, family members of veterans do not qualify for health benefits, but there are some exceptions.

Did you know…

The VHA system is the nation’s largest integrated health care system. It serves 9 million veterans a year at more than 1,300 health care facilities and ambulatory care clinics nationwide.

Dental and Vision Coverage

If you are a military retiree, you and your family members can get dental and vision coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). Enroll through the BENEFEDS website, which also includes a comparison of plans available in your area. Once you enroll, your coverage will automatically continue each year as long as you and your family members continue to qualify for the program.

Updated date

Article publidhed on February 18, 2023 by Josh Smith

Last Update February 18, 2023 by Josh Smith