Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gates Seeking to Contain Military Health Costs

Of nearly 4.5 million military retirees and their families, about three-quarters are estimated to have access to health insurance through a civilian employer or group. But more than two million of them stay on Tricare. As the costs of private health care continue to climb, their numbers are only expected to grow

Total health care costs for the Pentagon, which is the nation’s single largest employer, top $50 billion a year, a tenth of its budget and about the same amount that it is spending this year on the war in Iraq. Ten years ago, health care cost the Pentagon $19 billion; five years from now it is projected to cost $65 billion.

But Tricare fees have not increased since 1995.

Tricare refers to the $460 payment as an “enrollment fee,” not a premium. With $12 co-pays per doctor visit, some drug prescription payments and other costs, the current annual out-of-pocket expense for a family on Tricare Prime is estimated at $1,200 per year, still substantially less than what is available from private employers.

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