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Tricare fees
Old 04-15-2007, 03:13 PM   #1
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Tricare fees

The news was mostly good in late March as the House and Senate began working on their respective versions of the FY2008 Budget Resolution, which establishes budget caps that Congress will have to live by in the next fiscal year.

The best news was that both the House and Senate resolutions rejected the Administration's budget proposal to impose large fee increases on retired military beneficiaries under age 65. Both resolutions restored the $1.86 billion that the Administration had proposed cutting from the Defense health program.

Only a small portion of the proposed budget cut was attributable to increased revenues from higher fees. Most of the proposed reduction was attributable to an assumption that the fee increases would drive hundreds of thousands of military beneficiaries away from using their earned TRICARE benefits.

Both chambers saw that as inappropriate and restored the full funding amount - which means the Armed Services Committees will again have the latitude to reject the proposed increases, just as they did last year.
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Re: Tricare fees
Old 04-15-2007, 03:57 PM   #2
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Re: Tricare fees

I didn't realize there was such a proposal, kudos to whomever worked to get this proposal nixed. Another case of the Bush administration's neglect of military medical care issues.

I'm on Tricare Prime, because we live close to military hospitals, but may be changing to either standard Tricare if we move to another area, and to Tricare for life when we hit 65. When I was on standard Tricare the fees were not the issue, it was the tremendous paperwork (which my wife filled out) and the number of referrals I needed. Prime is much easier, almost nothing out of pocket and only 115 for my wife and I per quarter. With Tricare for life, which my mother and mother in law are in, Medicare is prime and Tricare secondary, and it seems to work very well. But my wife handles all the paperwork, since I have zero patience for it.
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Re: Tricare fees
Old 04-15-2007, 04:13 PM   #3
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Re: Tricare fees

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I didn't realize there was such a proposal, kudos to whomever worked to get this proposal nixed.
This is not the first time that Tricare rates have been proposed to increase. Last year they also proposed it, but it failed. Some rate increases were as high as 300% (based on rank) I believe.

The rates will be increased eventually as the cost, compared to other plans, is very low. Tricare Prime is only $230 annually per person!
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Re: Tricare fees
Old 04-15-2007, 05:42 PM   #4
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Re: Tricare fees

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Originally Posted by mickeyd
The rates will be increased eventually as the cost, compared to other plans, is very low. Tricare Prime is only $230 annually per person!
I don't mind paying small fees to cover administrative costs, act as a nuisance to keep people from abusing the system, etc. But I don't want to see Tricare get into the comparison game with civilian plans. The Tricare system is part of the benefits promised to military members to encourage them to remain on duty for 20 years or more in spite of the many family separations, hazardous duty, etc. That was the argument used when the Tricare for Life benefit was won.
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Re: Tricare fees
Old 04-29-2007, 11:52 AM   #5
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Re: Tricare fees

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But I don't want to see Tricare get into the comparison game with civilian plans.
Like it or not, there is a natural comparison between Tricare and any other non-governmental plan. I went into the military in 1966 and hung around until the mid 90's however, I never recall being guaranteed free medical care for life. I always understood that the benefits that I would receive at retirement would reflect whatever were approved when I qualified for them.
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Re: Tricare fees
Old 04-29-2007, 02:05 PM   #6
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Re: Tricare fees

Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyd
I never recall being guaranteed free medical care for life. I always understood that the benefits that I would receive at retirement would reflect whatever were approved when I qualified for them.
I think the TFL campaign showed that enough recruiters "made" this promise for the govt to feel obligated to honor their implied obligation. I think, too, that many govts (including ours) have found that it's cheaper to follow through on promises (however improperly made) than it is to attempt to save money by stiffing a bunch of pissed-off combat veterans.

However I think it's reasonable to raise TRICARE fees, even if it's just with the CPI-- let alone the cost of health care in general. I think it's silly to pay a $12 copay when doctors won't even see you at the negotiated rate. I wouldn't mind paynig $25-$50 if it'll keep down the nuisance visits.

TRICARE is a harbinger, not just a contract obligation. If the govt can get away with raising the fees on one of the nation's largest health care plans, then the rest of them are even more vulnerable to fee increases. We may not all be eligible for TRICARE, but we're all affected by it.
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Re: Tricare fees
Old 05-01-2007, 01:48 PM   #7
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Re: Tricare fees

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Originally Posted by mickeyd
I always understood that the benefits that I would receive at retirement would reflect whatever were approved when I qualified for them.
If you understood it that way, fine, but that's not the way I, or I dare say, most others, understood them. I recall many retention-oriented briefings touting the benefits of staying in at least 20 years. Medical care for myself and my dependents were prominent, as they should have been. Had they told me they didn't know what my benefits would be, but I'd know in 20 years when I qualified for them, I doubt if I would have agreed to risk uprooting my family every 3-4 years, spend time in remote locations away from them at critical times in my kids lives, and settle for 1/3 the pay of civilian contractors doing my same job. Not that patriotism didn't count, but I would have considered 4 years sufficient patriotism.

Addition: I entered the service in 1966, and there have been several changes to the retirement system since then. It's possible that later retirees may have been given different retention briefings than those in my year group.
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