In the last 10 years, health care costs for the Department of Defense have increased dramatically, climbing from $19 billion in 2001 to almost $53 billion in 2011. Part of the problem is that while the cost of medical care has more than doubled in the last 15 years, TRICARE fees and deductibles have only increased by 20 to 30 percent.
In an effort to bring spending under control, Defense Department officials have created a plan to increase the cost of coverage to a level more comparable with medical inflation.
The first part of the plan is to increase enrollment fees and deductibles for non-active duty personnel. Among the changes:
The other cost increase is the co-pay for prescription drugs.
The program is being structured to incentivize patients to fill prescriptions through either mail order or a military pharmacy. It will also encourage patients to use generic drugs over brand name. Right now, a one-month supply of a brand name prescription filled at a retail pharmacy costs $12. Starting in October, it will more than double to $26, while the generic brand will remain at $5. By 2017, the brand name will cost $34, while the generic will cost $9. Prescriptions filled at military treatment facilities will continue to be free of charge.
For retirees who do not have the opportunity to fill prescriptions at a Defense Department pharmacy, mail order remains a cost-effective option. In 2013, a three-month brand name prescription through mail order will cost $26, while the generic brand will remain free until 2017.
Even with the proposed fee hikes, DoD officials are assuring that TRICARE will continue to provide coverage at well below the cost of most civilian health plans. It is also important to note that these changes do not affect survivors of military members who died on active duty or members who have been medically retired.
Additional information can be found in the 2013 Defense Budget Request, sections 5-2 to 5-4, found here.
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