Military Health Care Costs On The RiseUSA Today: Rising costs of military health care are leading the Pentagon and lawmakers to consider the first rate increase of out of pocket health care spending in fifteen years for members of TRICARE, the military health program. "The rapid rise has been driven by a surge in mental health and physical problems for troops who have deployed to war multiple times and by a flood of career military retirees fleeing less-generous civilian health programs," said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE.
The military health care spending in terms of the overall defense budget has risen from 6% to 9% since 2001. The current system offers troops and their families "free health care except for out-of-pocket co-payments of $3 or $9 per prescription at civilian pharmacies." Even though lawmakers seem to not want to raise prices for those serving in the armed services, some are saying a rate hike is only fair. At a recent hearing, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said "I don't see how we can sustain this forever, where TRICARE is never subject to adjustment in terms of the premiums to be paid" (Zoroya, 4/23). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.