While the title specifies retirees the article paints an increasingly worse picture for military families. Welcome back to the clinton nineties where there's no operational or training budget and families are stuck with rising costs while military pay and allowances don't keep up with the cost of living. Once again servicemembers are going to be forced into making the very hard choice between serving their country or taking care of their families. We lost so many of our best and brightest back then because their children became ill and civilian medicine offered much better services than military medicine could provide. This is what happens when civilians who never spent a day in service run DoD. The sad truth is it's only going to get worse because the 2018 budget will once again make a move to dismantle the commissary system even more than it is now while continually raising prices to justify their doing so. Sheer stupidity to try and balance DoD's budget using servicemember's and their families while DoD itself wastes billions on recurring no bid defense contracts and severely over priced programs that don't work like F-35 and littoral combat ship. Stupid is as stupid does.
Budget Proposal Includes Major Retiree Tricare Fee Hikes
The new Defense Department budget proposal for 2017 sent today to Congress drastically increases the cost of healthcare for military retirees under 65 and reorganizes the currentTricare system, but otherwise includes few other major military family program reforms.
Under the new proposal the primary three Tricare options -- Tricare Prime, Tricare Standard and the services used by retirees -- would be combined into two basic plans. Like the current Tricare Prime and Standard options, the newly minted Tricare Select and Tricare Choice would continue to offer free services at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and require co-pays for services from in-network civilian providers. Like Tricare Prime, Tricare Select would require users to receive referrals for specialty care, while Tricare Choice would operate like Tricare Standard, allowing users to self-refer.
Active duty families and retirees could choose between the two plans and pay graduated fees between $20 and $250 for non-MTF care, depending on the service provided. As in the current Tricare Prime system, active-duty families stationed in remote areas far away from an MTF would be permitted to see in-network civilian providers without paying additional fees.
The major price changes are reserved for retirees. Under the new plan those users would be forced to pay a yearly enrollment fee through an open-enrollment type process regardless of which Tricare option they choose. Currently, retirees using Tricare Prime pay $282.60 per year for a single person or $565.20 for a family, while Standard requires no enrollment fee. The new system, however, would require retirees pay a $350 enrollment fee for individuals or $700 for families for Tricare Select, and $450 for individuals or $900 for families for Tricare Choice.
The increases are part of a $524 billion Defense Department budget request. Unlike recent years, the request includes no major commissary or housing allowance reform requests. Instead, those programs will continue to be impacted by legislation already in motion, including a push to change raise and lower commissary prices on a regional basis and plans to decrease Basic Allowance for Housing each year until it covers only 95 percent of troops' costs.
Tricare deductibles would also increase under the proposal. Active duty families under E4 would pay $100 for an individual or $200 for families, while all other users would pay $300 for an individual or $600 for a family. Catastrophic caps would also increase, landing at $1,500 for active duty families and $4,000 for retirees.
Future Tricare for Life users would also experience cost increases. Unlike current enrollees, newly qualified beneficiaries over 65 would be required to pay an annual fee of .5 percent of their gross retired pay for 2017, capped at $150 for most users and $200 for those who retired as flag officers. Those fees would increase to 2 percent by 2021, with a cap of $632 for most users and $842 for flag officers.
Pharmacy fees would also continue their gradual increase. Currently a 30-day supply of generic medication at a retail pharmacy is $10 while a brand-name drug is $24. Those prices would increase gradually to $14 and $46 by 2026. 90-day supplies filled through the mail order pharmacy are currently free for generics, $20 for brand name options and $49 for non-formulary. Those prices would increase to $14, $46 and $92 respectively by 2026.