New TRICARE Plan Pushes Prices
For soldiers, families and retirees currently receiving TRICARE benefits, you could be seeing some changes this fall. Many of which could cost you.
As part of the 2013 Defense Budget Request, the Department of Defense is proposing increases to enrollment fees, deductibles and co-pays. But perhaps that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Take a look at the numbers.
In the last 10 years, the U.S. Department of Defense’s health care costs have increased 179 percent, rising from $19 billion in 2001 to nearly $53 billion in 2011. While at the same time, TRICARE fees and deductibles have only increased about 20 to 30 percent in the last 15 years.
So the plan is to bump up TRICARE costs to meet rising medical expenses, which are putting financial strain on the Department of Defense.
Enrollment fees and deductibles:
- For those on TRICARE Prime, the $520 enrollment fee you’re used to paying could increase to anywhere from $600 to $820. The proposed new amount you could pay will be determined by your retirement income. But the plan won’t plateau there. By 2017, fees could reach $893 to more than $2,000 per year.
- For those on TRICARE Standard and Extra, you’re currently not used to paying any enrollment fee. Under the proposal, family plans will now start at $140. Deductibles will jump to from $300 to $320. Looking ahead, your enrollment fees and deductibles could reach $250 and $580 respectively.
- For those on TRICARE-for-Life, you will also start to see annual enrollment fees. Those fees will be determined by income. In 2013, fees could range from $35 to $115. By 2017, they could inflate to anywhere between $158 and $475.
But let’s take a step back. Are the rising medical costs behind these price hikes something TRICARE recipients should have to worry about?
In a statement to the Senate Budget Committee Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said none of the enrollment fee proposals would apply to active duty service members.
“Those most affected will be retirees, with the greatest impact on working-age retirees under the age of 65 still likely to be employed in the civilian sector,” Panetta said.
But one military retiree tells the Panama City News Herald, that these increases are simply not fair because TRICARE benefits were promised to him and soldiers like him when they were recruited.
“These people earned their benefits,” U.S. Air Force Veteran Robert DiFilippo said. “People are recruited because of the benefits and now after they have done their service they change the rules.”
Another area where the proposal is looking to change the rules is with your co-pay.
First, the Department of Defense wants you to leave the retail counter and instead fill your prescriptions by mail or at a military pharmacy. And when you do so, we hope you’re not brand-loyal. Simply put, generic brand drugs will be cheaper that brand names.
By October, one-month’s-worth of brand name meds could cost you $26, more than double the $12 you’re probably used to paying. Generic brand drugs, on the other hand, will remain $5 per month.
That’s only temporary though. Even generic brand drugs are expected increase though the five-year plan. Brand names could reach $34 and generics could hit $9 by 2017.
For retirees who don’t have the opportunity to pick us their prescription from the military pharmacy, the mail-order pills will run you about $26 for brand name medicine. And for all five years through 2017, generic brand pills will remain free.
It’s important to note, any prescription filled at a military treatment facilities will stay free as well. Also, these changes will not impact families of member of the military who died on active duty or were medically retired.
Guest Post provided by Matt Puettmann. Matt is a Content Manager at Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated VA mortgage lender.