Best healthcare in the world

In a sign of our continued national greatness, the SEAL who shot bin Laden lost his health insurance. He’s now paying about $6,000 a year for a private plan to cover his family, and that leaves out care that he needs for problems that he developed while, you know, shooting the worst guy on Earth. Read more at Ezra’s.

He’d better not look for public work in the Navy’s home state of Virginia. Good ol’ Governor Bob McDonnell (guess) just cut back state employees’ hours to keep them away from workplace coverage under Obamacare.

80 replies
  1. 1
    Raven says:

    Read the comment on that article.

  2. 2
    aimai says:

    Makes even more sense of the fact that the SEALs seem to need to profit off their service, int he form of book deals and consulting gigs and mercenary gigs–if they are guaranteed even health care coverage after their service. Chauncey deVega’s blog post about the SEAL who was shot at the firing range faults Kyle (by implication) for selling death porn in the form of his memoir but you can’t blame these guys for trying to make a buck after leaving the service given the execrable job conditions and health care insurance issues that they and their families face afterwards.

  3. 3
    Tim F. says:

    @Raven: If you mean the second article, I think we would have to ban that guy if he posted it here. No incitement to murder please.

  4. 4
    Raven says:

    @Tim F.: Yea, I didn’t see that 1st link.

  5. 5
    Cassidy says:

    @Raven: Saw that. Someone deserves a right ass kicking.

    ETA: I’m referring to the first comment at the WP.

  6. 6
    jonas says:

    I don’t know the ins and outs of the system, but how the hell does this guy not qualify for VA coverage? I don’t know that many combat vets, but all the ones I do know go to the VA and get pretty good care.

  7. 7
    dr. bloor says:

    First reaction: Wow, that blows in an all-too-unsurprising manner.

    Second reaction: Wow, where’s he scoring family coverage for “only” 6k/year?

  8. 8
    Cassidy says:

    The comments at the WP are interesting. They love them some troops.

  9. 9
    daveNYC says:

    A whole lot of selfish assholes commenting over there, that’s for sure.

  10. 10
    Cassidy says:

    @jonas: VA care is interesting. It’s really good care, but it’s only for service connected disabilities. If you retire, you continue to get Tricare coverage until you hit 65 and then you stop getting seen at the military hospitals and go to the VA.

    There are a couple of things to consider. This guy got out after 16 years so is mid 30’s, was in DEVGRU so is in excellent physical shape/ health. He probably has some service related injuries, but nothing crazy. Essentially, he probably has nothing to be seen for right now and with the drain in funds, the VA hasn’t been giving the best disability ratings lately.

  11. 11
    RSA says:

    @Cassidy:

    The comments at the WP are interesting. They love them some troops.

    Whole lotta douchebaggery there. Even from commenters who claim to be retired military.

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    Sure seems like there should be a sliding scale of coverage–like after 10 years you get X level and each additional year you get more. Plus, if you were on combat duty or were a SEAL and assigned to more dangerous missions, you earn extra “years” so you can leave earlier and still get benefits. Or something like that. The 20 years = everything and less than 20 years = nothing really sucks.

  13. 13
    Cassidy says:

    @Violet: The problem with that is their is no incentive to stay in, which is the hook of a 20 year retirement. It’s a good deal: 50% of the average of your last three years base pay, full access to military bases and services, and Tricare Prime for the rest of your life.

    The other thing to consider is how much money is spent training a service member to be the elite of the elite. That’s a huge investment on the part of the gov’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, here, I’m fully understanding of how the guy feels and compassionate. I’m just trying to show the other side of it.

    This guy does have options, though, as far as a career goes.

  14. 14
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I’m not sure I understand the outrage. The guy worked hard at a dangerous assignment, yes. But voluntarily. Now he’s well under 40 and leaves his job before being vested in his benefits (sorry if I don’t understand military retirement completely.) How is he any different from any other people who have good health care or pension benefits and quit their job in a manner or on a schedule which is disadvantageous? If he was the guy who was covering the guy who shot OBL, would this story be making Esquire?

  15. 15
    Grincheuse says:

    He probably qualifies for the VA, but his family is uninsured.

  16. 16
    Paul in KY says:

    Well, he should have done 3.5 more years (I assume a great & mighty SEAL could stay in for that long) & it would have been taken care of for life.

    He’s no different from anyone else (like me, for instance) who left the service without retiring. If he was a DAV, he would get priority medical care (although not family members).

  17. 17
    Cassidy says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Well, unfortunately, a lot of vets feel entitled to free shit just for being a vet. I feel for retirees because they got hosed repeatedly. Their benefits are constantly being readjusted and (I could be wrong) but I think Active Duty retirees have to pay for their “lifetime” healthcare now, albeit it’s cheap, but still.

    This is just anecdote, but I’ve got a buddy who was a Combat Medic with the Rangers who routinely support JSOC units; DEVGRU (Seal Team Six) is a Tier One JSOC unit. He never had anything good to say about them and in a roundabout way called them murderers. Again, this is complete anecdote. I don’t find it hard to believe in that the SOF community tends to be filled with guys (and gals) who are really chill and cool or complete and utter douchebags who fail at every aspect of life and humanity other than killing shit. There aren’t a lot who fall in between. Again, this is in my experience of dealing with them and common experience of other Soldiers I’ve known, so it could be worth less than a thimble full of piss.

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Cassidy: Yeah, I get that the government wants to keep the people they’ve invested in training. Still seems like it’s a slightly different type of job, in that getting killed or gravely injured is kind of potentially part of it, so that a sliding scale or a graduated system, with the big payoff at 20 years might be beneficial.

    I don’t understand why the guy left (haven’t read the article). It can’t be that he didn’t understand that there was a cost to him in leaving before 20 years. Would the military have given him a cushy assignment so he could finish his last four years and qualify for benefits?

  19. 19
    PeakVT says:

    I guess I’m not understanding the outrage, either. Maybe all my outrage capacity is being used up by the notion that nobody should be without healthcare, yet millions in this country go without.

  20. 20
    daveNYC says:

    @aimai:

    Chauncey deVega’s blog post about the SEAL who was shot at the firing range faults Kyle (by implication) for selling death porn in the form of his memoir but you can’t blame these guys for trying to make a buck after leaving the service given the execrable job conditions and health care insurance issues that they and their families face afterwards.

    Considering that their job skills consist mostly of being able to kill people in any of a dozen different ways, I am perfectly OK with them making book deals in order to make some money.

  21. 21
    hoodie says:

    @RSA: Some of the biggest FYIGM assholes are retired military. A lot of them didn’t get anywhere near anything that involved getting shot at, jumping out of airplanes, or even an everyday industrial accident. I have a wingnut cousin who is a retired Navy nurse, stationed in San Diego, Chicago, Charleston, Spain and Connecticut for most of his career, just one 10 month deployment safely offshore in Gulf War I. Got Navy-subsidized masters, now gets full Tricare, subsidized golf, and will enjoy full pension, bitches endlessly about socialism. My dad spent 5 straight years in fucking combat zones all over the Pacific in WWII and got nothing but the GI bill and VA, which, at that time, sucked ass.

  22. 22
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @aimai:

    you can’t blame these guys for trying to make a buck after leaving the service given the execrable job conditions and health care insurance issues that they and their families face afterwards.

    Anecdata here, but the several retired SF (and CIA black-ops) types I know all went on to perfectly normal jobs after the military and are by now retired-retired, living quite comfortably on two or three pensions. Maybe the difference is they were generally officers, not enlisted, but still, I shed no tears for them (and, in fairness, they know they’ve got a cushy deal too.)

  23. 23
    Cassidy says:

    @Violet: Obviously, I can’t speak for him, but I can specualte a little. For one, it really sucks leaving your family that much. It was hard on my family and I was a regular Soldier, not even remotely close to SOF, so I can’t imagine how much it affected them. He and his wife could simply be burnt out. I’ve also heard that SEALs in DEVGRU get very frustrated as it’s hard to get promoted to E-7 or higher, whereas their Army counterparts are almost all promoted to E-7 and E-8. That’s a big deal retirement-wise. I’d imagine it’s pretty galling to be that elite and only be able to retire as an E-6.

    My biggest guess, though, is that he got out thinking he could cash in on his experience and I don’t blame him. There are SEALs all over the damn place writing books and making money, but maybe he can’t do that. Four years as a contractor, with his skill level, and you’re a millionaire, but, the money is drying up. He could go CIA or back into the service, etc., but again, he could be burned out.

  24. 24
    kc says:

    He’s now paying about $6,000 a year for a private plan to cover his family,

    According to most of the front pagers and commenters here, he should be grateful for the opportunity to pay $6000 a year for health insurance.

  25. 25
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cassidy: SEALs are Navy & I know the Navy used to place a big premium on making ‘Chief’ (E-7 – E-9).

    In the USAF, you did test for E-7 & E-8, but you had to meet a board as well. I think E-9 was all board. I have been out for 27 years though, so it’s probably all changed now.

    They would get combat pay & harzardous duty pay (which alot of Navy enlisted would not get, unless their ship was in a war zone). Pay that woul be minor, compared to the danger they were probably uder when they went on a mission.

  26. 26
    kc says:

    He’s now paying about $6,000 a year for a private plan to cover his family,

    According to most of the front pagers and commenters here, he should be grateful for the opportunity to pay 6K a year for health insurance.

  27. 27
    Cassidy says:

    @Paul in KY: Yeah, I don’t anything but Army; E-7 and above is all centralized boards. All I know is what I’ve heard and even the SEALs have a difficult time making the E-7 and above. In the Army, it’s a given that all the SOF guys are going to retire at elast E-7/8.

  28. 28
    SteveAR says:

    And here I thought the Obama regime actually cared about those who carry out his orders. Like so many others, Obama throws our best heroes under the bus.

    But hey, Obama got bin Laden, right? And the Obama regime says Al Qaeda is in retreat, except that it isn’t?

  29. 29
    Cassidy says:

    @SteveAR: Wow! You’re good. Did you come up with that or just copy and paste from freeperland? Either away, I applaud you’re rendition of the wingnut song.

  30. 30
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: My dad retired as an E-9 from the Navy. His pension is enough to cover the mortgage for one house (they have two, my brothers live in one) but he was also a nuke tech on subs. Still from what I understand it was quite the achievement. He was actually considered for CPO of the Navy, but my mom killed that idea. She HATES DC.

  31. 31
    handsmile says:

    @Cassidy:

    My b-i-l retired from the SEALs in 2005, after serving in the Navy for more than 20 years. He boasts about the extent and quality of the healthcare he and his family receive (lives in New Mexico), but then again, he boasts about a lot of things.

    Do I understand correctly your earlier comments on this thread that such comprehensive coverage is one benefit of his length of service?

    ETA: And fwiw, he’s had an extraordinarily difficult time acclimating to civilian life. Fortunately, my wife’s sister is a rock.

  32. 32
    Paul in KY says:

    @Cassidy: Back when I was in, it sorta (when testing) had to do with how many people were in your AFSC & what exactly was your AFSC (like MOS). If there were alot or generally doofuses did that job, then the threshhold score could be lower. If your job was only done by a few very smart people, then the scores could be quite high.

    Don’t know if this would work for being a SEAL.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @Yutsano: Mine retired an E-7 and would have made 8 has he stayed in past 20. It ain’t easy in the Navy to make rank. I can understand the frustration if you’re counterparts from a different service were all making more pay and the service itself refused to make room to move up.

  34. 34
    Paul in KY says:

    @SteveAR: That’s the Obama Hegemony, to you bub…

    Jeezus, a ‘regime’! Come on, we’ve schemed since he was born in Kenya to do much, much more than a stinking ‘regime’.

  35. 35
    SteveAR says:

    @Cassidy – I found this statement from the post quite pathological:

    He’d better not look for public work in the Navy’s home state of Virginia. Good ol’ Governor Bob McDonnell (guess) just cut back state employees’ hours to keep them away from workplace coverage under Obamacare.

    Obama screws his own soldiers, but those who worship Obama as a god decide to tie in a completely unrelated item to avoid reality. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, but it’s something you moonbats seem to love swimming in.

  36. 36
    Cassidy says:

    @handsmile: Yes. If you retire (20 years) from the military then you and your family will receive the same level of care/ insurance you had on Active Duty at any military treatment facility in the world. I have heard that retirees now have to pay for it, but even then it is less than $200 a month for a whole fmaily and I could be wrong about that. It’s called Tricare Prime. On active duty, you pay nothing.

    In my case, I did 13 years Active Duty and got out into the Reserves. That changes things drastically. I wills till retire, but my pay won’t start until I’m 60 and I won’t get the premium healthcare for free, but I can still pay for it, until I’m 65, for the aforementioned amount.

  37. 37
    Paul in KY says:

    @handsmile: Yes. Because he ‘retired’ (20 years min, unless you received some kinds of injuries that allowed you to retire earlier), he & his spouse (and any kids under 18) get care at military hospitals or get to use Tri-Care to go to civilian medical when necessary.

    Edit: Cassidy, you explained it much better than I.

  38. 38
    Cassidy says:

    @SteveAR: Man, you’re really good! That is one of the best imitations of a RW know nothing blowhard we’ve seen in a while. You’re a natural at this. Do you do other impressions?

  39. 39
    RSA says:

    @hoodie:

    Some of the biggest FYIGM assholes are retired military.

    Come to think of it, that matches my own experience; I wasn’t remembering my in-laws. Huh. I guess I have this idealized view…

  40. 40
    SteveAR says:

    @Cassidy – Sure. I can imitate Obama. All I have to do is make sounds like the adults in the Peanuts TV cartoons and that is how he sounds.

  41. 41
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: Tricare is my parents’ tertiary insurance (Mom’s retiree pays first, then my Dad’s from work) so they haven’t seen a medical bill in forever. She’s almost two years from Medicare and can’t wait for it. And votes Republican. I still love her anyway. Even if she is dropping subtle marriage hints. See why the NYD is staying far away from her? :)

  42. 42
    Cassidy says:

    @SteveAR: Dude, stop, stop, you’re killing me. Gotta catch my breath. World class imitation, man. World class. You have a career in comedy ahead of you.

  43. 43
    Cassidy says:

    @Yutsano: Usually it’s the other way around. If you use the Tricare at an MTF, they’ll bill you’re other insurance, knock down the deductible, and you still don’t pay a penny. Then you can use your other insurances benefits without paying the dedcutibles and co-fees.

  44. 44
    aimai says:

    @kc:

    6000 a year is, in fact, cheap for family coverage. Its expensive relative to a low level of pay but its cheap for coverage.

  45. 45
    handsmile says:

    @Cassidy: , @Paul in KY:

    Thanks, appreciate your replies, gentlemen!

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    @hoodie:

    Some of the biggest FYIGM assholes are retired military. A lot of them didn’t get anywhere near anything that involved getting shot at, jumping out of airplanes, or even an everyday industrial accident.

    I’m not in that business, but it’s my anecdotal experience that the biggest RWNJ assholes among DOD and ex-DOD personnel are invariably the ones who never saw combat.

    Additionally, whenever I hear someone start bragging about their time in the Army, I tend to assume they weren’t in combat. The combat vets I’ve met just really don’t fucking want to talk about it, regardless of politics, background or how they feel about what they’ve done. Ditto civilians who’ve had to live in war zones, by the way.

  47. 47
    chopper says:

    @SteveAR:

    it would make sense that your political beliefs are based in cartoons.

  48. 48
    gex says:

    @SteveAR: I see we are counting the fact that Obama’s health care policies WOULD cover this soldier as a way that Obama is screwing the soldier over. Nice trick. Health care coverage for the soldier would only count if Obama did it special for vets.

  49. 49
    chopper says:

    @gex:

    actually he should have coverage through the VA. his family wouldn’t, but obamacare would, when it goes fully into effect, cover them.

    clearly this means obama is the devil.

  50. 50
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: My mom is older than my dad, so birthday rule applies. But she’s under Tricare too.

  51. 51

    Retired Navy wife here – hubs did his 20 and receives a monthly pension, commissary privs (worth their weight in gold!) and yes, the healthcare is an amazing benefit. We pay approx $420 *a year* and that covers both of us. Small co-pay if we get our meds from a pharmacy vs. the base.

    I am thankful for this every. damn. day and do not ever take it for granted. Ever.

    Neither does hubs who has told me that he often feels like he didn’t earn it despite spending 20 years in the service because he served during peacetime. He tried re-enlisting when 9/11 happened but he was over the age limit.

  52. 52
    askew says:

    @Cassidy:

    VA care is interesting. It’s really good care, but it’s only for service connected disabilities. If you retire, you continue to get Tricare coverage until you hit 65 and then you stop getting seen at the military hospitals and go to the VA.

    That isn’t true. My grandfather gets seen for all of his medical concerns at the VA. The only one of them that is service related is hearing loss from sitting next to the gunner in WWII. His other medical issues have nothing to do with his service.

  53. 53
    kc says:

    @aimai:

    It is relatively cheap. I mean, if you have an extra 6K a year. I just thought it curious that the tone of the post was, “Oh, poor guy is being forced to buy private health insurance” in light of everything else I’m reading on this site.

  54. 54
    ruviana says:

    @askew: If I read this right, it IS true–if your grandfather was sitting next to the gunner in WWII, he’s gotta be over 65.

  55. 55
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mystical Chick: I thank your husband for his service & you too, cause I know you did it too.

    Tell him not to fret about that. Those who served in wartime wish they had been able to do a whole career in peacetime.

  56. 56
    Paul in KY says:

    @askew: If you have a service connected disability (10% or higher), VA hospitals will take care of all your needs. Not just the injury that got the disability.

  57. 57
    Cassidy says:

    @askew: It’s very true. WW2, Korea, and Vietnam vets get care under a different basis because they were brought in before the all volunteer force and before Tricare/ Champus was the healthcare system.

  58. 58
    Sterling says:

    It’s odd that he left the service after 16 years when he was so close to the magic 20-year mark. You’d think that if he didn’t want the pace/pressure of SEAL active service, he could have requested assignment to some kind of desk or training job. Was there are reference to why he left in the article?

  59. 59
    Cassidy says:

    @Sterling: Something about him and some fellow SEALs trying to start a business. It didn’t go into a lot of detail.

  60. 60

    @Paul in KY:

    Actually, we got married right after he got out of the service so I didn’t have to schlep around from place to place with him. I get to reap the benefits. I am enormously grateful for those benefits, truly.

  61. 61
    Paul in KY says:

    @Sterling: Generally, that would be a red flag. He was involuntarily mustered out for some reason.

    However, there are many exceptions to that rule:

    1) Win lottery
    2) High paying civilian job that means you don’t need the military retirement.
    3) Married a millionaire
    4) Couldn’t take military anymore & voluntarily left before you snapped.
    5) etc. etc.

  62. 62
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mystical Chick: Lucky ducky!

    Best wishes to y’all!

  63. 63
    btom89 says:

    Well, I have a theory. I don’t have any proof one way or other, but….he could be gay. He could have a boyfriend or husband and DOMA prevents his health care (Tricare) from being extended to his significant other so that could be why he has to pay that money, so his partner’d have health care as well.
    (Edit: I read the article and it’s more about no transition from Tricare to other privatized insurance so it doesn’t necessarily suggest anything about him or his family one way or other.)
    Although I’d think DOMA should go down hard since it prevents gay soldiers from being able to provide for their family units as well.

  64. 64
    Cassidy says:

    @btom89: The article mentions his wife.

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    @Cassidy:
    As you probably realize, seeing as how you were speaking tongue in cheek, this is not an impression.

  66. 66
    Rafer Janders says:

    Can we stop calling the SEAL a “soldier”? He was in the Navy, not the Army, so he’s a sailor, not a soldier.

  67. 67
    Cassidy says:

    @Ruckus: Oh I know. I just felt that was the better response.

  68. 68
    evodevo says:

    @dr. bloor: Exactly !! My husband and I were paying that much for a middle level group policy through his state teachers’ retirement – most “private”, i.e. non-group, policies run 12-20k for a family.

  69. 69
    Ruckus says:

    @Cassidy:
    I have to disagree here. I get full VA coverage and I didn’t retire, I served one enlistment during Vietnam. I am over 60 but no where in the VA info have I seen that as a requirement. Now some of this may be due to when I was in and not what has happened in the last 40 yrs but I see people waiting for care in their 20’s and 30’s at the VA. Of course mostly I’m a little younger than the average age, which I’d say is about 70. Either that or some of us have not aged well at all. And BTW I have no service connected disabilities.

  70. 70
    evodevo says:

    @hoodie: You just described my brother-in-law. Well, except for the nurse part. Never got within 300 miles of a “combat zone”, joined up during the Nam era, spent all of it except for Gulf War I in either the states or bases abroad (Europe & Korea) and has essentially the same attitude. It’s all I can do to keep my mouth shut when we go for a visit.

  71. 71
    Cassidy says:

    @Ruckus: See my comment at #57. The younger folks could be vets who’ve gotten out over the last 10 years or so. I’m in my 30’s and eligible to be seen at the VA, but I use my health insurance as it’s more convenient.

    Pre-volunteer military vets are covered under a different set of rules.

  72. 72
    Not Sure says:

    And yet, when somebody suggests a more humane/equitable vesting system for military retirement, you will hear the leadership (mainly officers and senior NCOs who already have 20 years in) whining about how it would cause retention to drop through the floor. Well, let it. There are always a few go-getter E4s who would like to get promoted sooner.

  73. 73
    Joel says:

    @Cassidy: I get the fact that the guy got out after 16, not the mandatory retirement minimum, so tough nuts. But this just highlights to me the problem with employer-provided health care in the first place.

  74. 74
    AxelFoley says:

    @SteveAR:

    And here I thought the Obama regime actually cared about those who carry out his orders. Like so many others, Obama throws our best heroes under the bus.

    But hey, Obama got bin Laden, right? And the Obama regime says Al Qaeda is in retreat, except that it isn’t?

    New troll in the house, folks.

    You want retirement benefits, you stay in the full 20 years. What, did he expect special treatment? Is that what you expect for him, asshole?

  75. 75
    AxelFoley says:

    @SteveAR:

    @Cassidy – Sure. I can imitate Obama. All I have to do is make sounds like the adults in the Peanuts TV cartoons and that is how he sounds.

    Or just make the sounds you make when you have a plate full of dicks in your mouth.

  76. 76
    BruinKid says:

    Hey guys, you realize the Esquire story is VERY misleading, don’t you? It left out some important details.

    Except the claim about health care is wrong. And no servicemember who does less than 20 years gets a pension, unless he has to medically retire.

    Like every combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the former SEAL, who is identified in the story only as “the Shooter”, is automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    But the story doesn’t mention that.

    The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.

    “No one ever told him that this is available,” Bronstein said.

    He said there wasn’t space in the article to explain that the former SEAL’s lack of healthcare was driven by an ignorance of the benefits to which he is entitled.

    “That’s a different story,” Bronstein said in a phone interview with Stars and Stripes about what he omitted from the article.

    Um, WTF?

  77. 77
    wrog says:

    @kc:
    I was going to say only $6000?

  78. 78
    wrog says:

    @kc:
    I was going to say only $6000?

  79. 79
    john b says:

    @BruinKid:

    The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.

    I find that hard to believe. Pretty sure you get a thorough meeting with people to discuss your benefits whenever separating from the military voluntarily, if my friends who have done so are any indication.

  80. 80
    LanceThruster says:

    Considering what seems to be the case re: bin Laden, shouldn’t it be “the SEAL who allegedly shot bin Laden?”

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