Yesterday Tom Philpott reported that the House Armed Services Committee endorsed key portions of the Obama administration's plan to begin to raise out-of-pocket costs modestly for some TRICARE beneficiaries, particularly working-age retirees.
According to the article, the committee voted to allow the first increase in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees in more than 15 years. As reported here, the Defense Department budget proposal would include a modest increase for working-age retirees, those not yet on TRICARE For Life. The committee’s version of the bill would allow for the DoD’s request to increase premiums, bumping the rate by $30-a-year, which would raise the annual premium for individual coverage to $260, and an increase of $60-a-year for family coverage, making it $520 a year.
Since most veteran and retiree groups have conceded on the modest increase, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. However, the issue that has been driving most of the debate is how future increases would be handled. DoD has been asking to have future increases pegged to the4 National Health Expenditure index which averages about 6% a year. However, under the committee's version these fees for retirees will be adjusted each year to match the percentage rise in retired pay made through by the annual COLA or cost-of-living adjustment.
Read Tom Philpott’s latest article for more on the HAS Committees’ proposed defense budget.