One Chart Shows How Military Health Care Costs Compare to Civilians' Fees


This article by Paul Frost originally appeared on the Military Officers Association of America website.

Retirees and surviving spouses and their families have experienced significant cost-share increases for their Tricare benefits over the past couple military budgets. Increases in pharmacy costs, copayments, catastrophic caps, and annual deductibles and a new enrollment fee for Tricare Select users continue to erode the overall benefit. MOAA perseveres as an advocate leader in ongoing efforts against insidious and disproportional cost-sharing increases to this hard-earned service benefit.

Many military retirees have limited knowledge on what their civilian counterparts pay for comparable employer-provided health care coverage. While a comparison of military retiree to employer-provided health care might be akin to equating avocados to kumquats, a well-informed constituency is fundamental to defending and defeating future battles with Pentagon and Capitol Hill influencers against Tricare fee increases.  

In 2017, the average employer-provided family health care plan cost $18,764, a 3.4-percent increase from 2016. Family coverage premiums have increased 19 percent since 2012 and 55 percent since 2007. Employees covered under these plans typically pay 31 percent of the overall premium, or $5,817 a year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

While not diminishing the avocado to kumquat argument, let’s compare Tricare retiree coverage costs with the national average employer-provided family coverage:


Health care costs are projected to increase at 5.6 percent a year until 2025, driven by inflation in the cost of medical services and products and an aging U.S. population, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Although the current outlook is that we will have a respite on new health care fee increases in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, Tricare fee battles will remain on our radar screens for the foreseeable future. 

Our civilian counterparts pay significantly higher premiums and deductibles for similar health care benefits. MOAA effectively conveys our shared belief that military retirees, families, and survivors earned their relatively low-cost health care benefits through long years of service and sacrifice.  Attempts at comparisons are inevitable when discussing national budget outlays, which makes it crucial to understand and appreciate the “playing field conditions,” in order to set, meet, and achieve your advocacy goals.   

This article One Chart Shows How Military Health Care Costs Compare to Civilians’ Fees originally appeared on the Military Officers Association of America website. MOAA is the nation's largest and most influential association of military officers.

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