Once again, Congress wants military beneficiaries to provide more of their money to plow back into DoD to offset the costs of readiness. Congress is coming back to the TRICARE trough - for the second year in a row - with the intention of raising TRICARE fees aimed at retirees under age 65. DoD would gain about $2.8 billion between 2020 and 2023 through these new fee increases.
The Senate Armed Services Committee's (SASC's) initial release of the summary of its FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act markup did not indicate or make any reference to military health care or the TRICARE fees.
However, when the fine print and actual details of the legislation emerged a week later, the picture was quite different. MOAA's analysis of the SASC's proposed legislative language and the committee report revealed that TRICARE fees for under age 65 retirees would be increased. (It should be mentioned that the recent House NDAA didn't propose any fee increases.)
The legislation repeals the 2017 NDAA's law, which grandfathered those beneficiaries who entered into the service prior to Jan. 1, 2018, with the existing TRICARE fee structure (now named Group A). Those new entrants after that date were put into a new fee structure (named Group B).
We all know how that worked out: TRICARE fees, including pharmacy fees, increased for active duty families and retirees. The Senate's new plan seeks to end grandfathering by essentially moving all of Group A into the Group B TRICARE fee structure. The result? Higher TRICARE fees.
For example, retirees in TRICARE Prime will see their current enrollment fees ($282 for an individual/$565 for a family) go to $350 for an individual and $700 for a family. For the new Select option, enrollment fees would increase to $450 for an individual and $900 for a family versus what is now set to start in 2021 as $150 for an individual and $300 for a family.
For retirees, the annual deductible for TRICARE Select ($150 for an individual/$300 for a family) would double for out-of-network care. Most other cost shares would remain largely the same.
MOAA has always believed the quality and value of the military health care benefit should reflect the extraordinary sacrifices of military service as the prepaid premium for these earned benefits.
MOAA believes the previous year's TRICARE fee increases were disproportionately high and broke faith with currently serving families and those who have served full careers. The addition of these new Senate-proposed fee increases do nothing but place a more disproportionate burden on military beneficiaries.
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