Congress has blocked a proposal by the Obama administration to increase TRICARE enrollment fees. But participants in the military's health care program may end up paying more in other ways.
The Stars and Stripes reports both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees each voted against plans, which were part of both the Senate and House versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2013, to phase in higher enrollment fees and deductibles.
According to Military.com, health care makes up about 10 percent of the Department of Defense budget. The day before the congressional committees' votes, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pleaded for the increases:
"We need these savings. This is a difficult step to take, but it's an important one."
However, Tricare participants might feel the pinch in other ways. The Stars and Stripes surmises:
The absence of any new Senate prohibition, combined with the House committee’s vote in May to raise at least some drug co-pays effective Oct. 15 this year, means Tricare beneficiaries are almost certain to see prescription drug costs off base climb starting this fall.
Both committees have signaled that raising drug co-pays, particularly for brand-name prescriptions off base, is an acceptable way to raise beneficiary cost shares as military health costs continue to climb.