Many veterans who receive Tricare may face annual enrollment fees under a proposal released by the House Armed Services Committee.
The plan would mean current Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra users would fall under the new Tricare Preferred plan and be required to pay a $100 annual enrollment fee for individuals or a $200 fee for families beginning in 2020. Tricare is a managed service health care program that covers active-duty military, retired military and their dependents.
New Tricare users would pay higher fees under the plan, with active-duty family members paying $300 for an individual or $600 for families per year. Future military retirees who joined after 2020 would be required to pay an annual fee of $425 for an individual or $850 for a family, Military.com reported.
“Under the new Preferred option, users would have no annual deductible, but would pay set fees out of pocket. For example, emergency room visits would cost $40 in network for active-duty families, and $60 for retirees. The catastrophic yearly cap would be at $1,000 for active-duty families and $3,000 for retirees.
For Prime users, no annual deductibles would apply unless users chose to receive care without a referral. In that case, they would face a $300 for individuals or $600 for families deductible, with the same catastrophic cap as Preferred users. Other services, such as emergency room use, would continue to be free.”
“When we looked at reforming the Tricare benefit, we looked at the goal of preserving readiness, and ensuring that military treatment facilities would remain as a readiness platform," a Hose staffer told Military Times. "We want people to use military treatment facilities.”
The bill would also change the current military health system to “ensure medical readiness and streamline administrative structure” -- requiring military health facilities to stay open past normal business hours, which would maintain urgent care facilities and improve patient access.
The Tricare fees would not affect those who choose to use the new Tricare Preferred program until as late as February 2020.
The legislation, which was proposed by HASC Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, must be approved by the House and the Senate before it can become law. The Senate, according to Military Times, is set to introduce its version of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act in May.