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Alternative TRICARE option

PacMed doctor discusses convenient plan for military

Military families have the option of using civilian providers through the US Family Health Plan. Photo credit:

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The military lifestyle can be hectic; with countless obligations and a strong sense of dedication, tackling medical to-dos can take valued time out of soldiers' busy lives. Thankfully, Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) is a provider of the United States Family Health Plan (USFHP), a TRICARE Prime option based on ease, convenience and quality care for active-duty military members and their families, including retired servicemembers. In honor of Veterans Day, PacMed's family healthcare provider Dr. Zaal Paymaster explained why the USFHP is a valuable option for military families and how PacMed honors vets and their families all year long.

What services and special conveniences does PacMed offer to its local military members and their families?

The providers and leaders of PacMed are driven by the simple premise of providing patients with comprehensive and compassionate care as close to the community as possible. Instead of the community coming directly to the healthcare system, PacMed brings high-quality healthcare to the front door of the community by situating clinics within neighborhoods across the greater Seattle area. Our clinics are fully integrated into each community, providing accessibility and reliability for our neighbors and friends.

As part of our patient-centric approach to care, doctors provide individualized attention to patients, including excellent communication and coordinated care across PacMed's care team. In order to offer accessible care when patients need it, PacMed offers same-day appointments and extended hours. Additionally, instead of requiring patients to drive to multiple locations for primary care, urgent care and specialty care, PacMed consolidates these services in each of its community clinics, providing routine primary care through family medicine clinics, pediatric clinics and internal medicine clinics.

Additionally, PacMed is the only designated provider on the west coast of the USFHP, which serves our valued military members and their families. The USFHP is a program that is only offered in six parts of the country, with the Puget Sound being one of them.

Can you explain PacMed's USFHP to those who may be unfamiliar with it?

All medical systems have a commitment to provide outstanding care -- including primary, specialty and urgent -- in a timely fashion. The military medical system is no different, except that it is tasked with sustaining the health of the force both at home and in deployed settings along with caring for veterans and military families. Needless to say, this can be taxing, and at times, the medical system isn't able to provide the required care in the appropriate time span.

This is where the USFHP comes in -- it gives the military medical system and beneficiaries a viable, safe and timely option. USFHP offers active-duty family members and retired personnel the ability to use all civilian providers. USFHP is a promise and commitment to the veterans, retirees and military dependents to provide both primary and specialty care outside of the military medical system, saving patients time while providing them with more options for their healthcare. Primary care, specialty care and ancillary care (including physical therapy, lab work and radiology) are all covered under the USFHP.

The beneficiary contacts USFHP and then (he or she) is directed to civilian primary care providers (PCP) while also being allowed to be seen by specialists through consultation from their PCP. Primary care, specialty care, and ancillary care are all covered under USFHP; everything from routine physicals and immunizations to surgeries are offered to military beneficiaries outside the military medical system.

What future plans does PacMed have that would be beneficial to its military and civilian clientele? How will these plans affect the quality of service for your organization?

The future of PacMed's commitment to the western Washington communities can be summarized in two words: improve and expand. Improve on already existing programs, services and facilities in order to offer more to our current patients -- whether adding providers at existing locations to reduce wait time or offering further ancillary services to consolidate care at a single location.

Expand PacMed's commitment to providing individualized, patient-focused care into surrounding communities to offer a better healthcare option. Regardless of whether it is improving or expanding, the core driving force is the delivery of comprehensive and compassionate healthcare to the front door of the communities we serve and live in.

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