While nursery decorating and clothes shopping may be more enjoyable tasks for first-time parents, there are many other aspects of child-rearing that need to be discussed as a family prior to welcoming a new family member into the home. Financial readiness is probably the biggest building block.
The immediate expenses like diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and clothes make sense, but what about planning for child care costs or schooling? Making a budget even without including children is not an easy task. Check out your Family and Fleet Services or Community Services to see if they offer a budgeting class. Being prepared for the usual costs can prepare you for the unusual. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers a Budget for Baby class that reviews not just budgeting in general, including helping your family to make a personalized budget for all expenses, and cover what expenses and what amounts to expect for Marine Corps and Navy families.
With TRICARE coverage, the labor, delivery, and any newborn screenings or treatments like circumcision and immunizations are covered. There may be a copay for certain hospitals or based on the TRICARE coverage plan you have, but these are typically very clear in regards to what to expect in regards to cost. For the last several years, TRICARE has also begun to cover breast pumps and all required supplies. This means tubing, bottles, bottle caps, and storage bags are even covered. If you need a converter to use a breast pump overseas, that is covered. One breast pump is covered per birth.
If you received a referral to an in-network provider for breastfeeding counseling, the provider can bill TRICARE for services. Even non-network providers can submit for coverage. Starting January 1, 2022, TRICARE covers breastfeeding counseling from lactation consultants and counselors as part of the Childbirth and Breastfeeding Support Demonstration (CBSD) program that will run until December 31, 2026 at this time. The CBSD program will begin in overseas locations beginning January 1, 2025. No referrals are needed for services unless in TRICARE Prime and a referral is needed from the primary care provider. In fact, under the new program, non-medical support doulas will also be covered for those enrolled in the TRICARE Prime and Select programs.
Don’t forget the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line can also provide medical assistance via phone 24/7.
Wills and Power of Attorneys
Planning ahead with power of attorneys is a familiar dilemma for military families. When children are added to the military family, you also need to consider care plans for children. Head to the legal assistance office on your installation, and get wills completed and notarized without legal fees. If you have more complex family concerns, they can also refer you to a legal team that may provide legal advice for a discounted rate.
On Base Programming
Programming through your bases’ Family and Fleet Services or Community Services like New Parent Support programs can also help you navigate the world of child-rearing through free programming. Some groups offer visiting nurses without incurring a cost to help navigate feeding or diapering questions. If your local military installation has a USO, check to see if they are hosting a USO Baby Shower – these events offer parental advice books and workshops, and some people even get goodies that can help offset the cost in the short term.
Adding a family member to your family takes planning beyond the short-term, and there are many ways to get ahead financially thanks to these military resources. Is there a resource you have used on your base? Let us know!