The Pentagon wants to raise health insurance premiums for some 9.6 million military retirees to rein in costs that are expected to hit $65 billion in five years. Premiums have not changed in 16 years in the program known as Tricare, that also has low deductibles and limited co-pays, The Washington Post reports
Defense Secretary Robert Gates
has tried to raise premiums in three budgets with no luck. He has argued that the health-care costs are harming the military and jeopardizing weapons modernization programs and equipment for troops, the Post said.
The lifetime benefits provided by the program are so good that retirees, who are receiving full pensions, often turn down private health insurance when they take civilian jobs. About three-quarters of the military retirees aged 45 to 64 have access to private insurance through civilian jobs, but most turn it down, the Post said.
Gates now is proposing that premiums for 586,000 retirees of working age be raised by $2.50 a month for an individual plan and $5 for families. Active duty personnel and their families, along with retirees over 65, receive Tricare at no cost, the Post said.
Gate told the House Armed Services Committee in February that the “current Tricare arrangement … is simply unsustainable.” However, the Military Officers Association of America’s Steve Strobridge said, “ “Throughout their careers, military people were told, ‘We beat you up a lot, but if you’re willing to put up with this over two to three decades, free health care for life is your benefit,’” the Post said.
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