Military

Mar 6, 2014 12:17 AM by Maddie Garrett

Proposed Defense Cuts Could Raise Tricare Fees

The proposed 2015 budget from the Pentagon of $47.4 billion could mean major changes to the Defense Department's healthcare program, Tricare. DoD said Tricare rates would likely increase, as well as the cost of other healthcare benefits. This would impact a large portion of Southern Colorado's population, made up of many retired military.

Active duty families won't see too many changes, as long as they go to military physicians and healthcare facilities. But some of their rates could still rise as well.

Brenna Godlevsky's husband is going on ten years in the Army, her father still active duty military after 26 years. She said they've known that budget cuts are on the way.

"If this is what we have to do I would rather my husband have the right equipment, I'd rather my father have the right equipment, I would rather, I want to make sure they're taken care of, and if we have to pay a little extra then we have to pay a little extra. I'm ok with that," she said.

For her, changes to Tricare won't break the bank. Active duty family benefits won't change much, as long as they use military facilities. But prescription drug co-pays on retail or mail order pharmacy benefits would go up, and out-of-network visits would go up from 15% to 20% of the Tricare allowable charge.

"We're used to sacrifice, this is what we do," she said of any added costs.

And Godlevsky's family will be prepared if these changes go through when her husband eventually retires.

"We know now to save the money, retirees are in a different position," she explained.

Greg Floyd retired in 2010 with full benefits after a career in the Air Force of 20 years.

"You get told if you stay in for a career, hey these are the benefits," said Floyd.

But now Greg said he feels like those benefits are getting chipped away.

Under the Pentagon's proposed budget, the three major Tricare programs, Tricare Prime, Standard and Extra, would be consolidated into one plan. There would be new fees for retirees using military treatment facilities, increase co-pays and deductibles.

Annual enrollment fees would go up for retirees to $286 from $269. For a retiree's family, the cost would rise from $539 to $572. Retirees would also start paying copays at military treatment facilities, ranging from $10 to $50.

Deductibles would rise as well. Out-of-network deductibles for ranks up to E4 would be $100 instead of $50 for an individual, and $300 from $150 for a family. For everyone else, the deductibles would go up from $150 to $300 for a single person and up to $600 from $300 for a family.

The plan also brings up another new initiative, starting enrollment fees for new Tricare for Life beneficiaries based on a percentage of the retiree's gross retired pay.

"I don't know that there's that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so to speak," said Floyd of the proposed changes.

Floyd, like many retirees, still works to pay the bills and put kids through college, even though he served a full 20 years.

"I can't live on my retiree income alone, there's no way," said Floyd.

So those benefits he gets, Floyd said those help make all of his sacrifices for two decades, worth it.

"All this hard work, and all these deployments and all these assignments and moving my family around," said Floyd. "I know at the end I'm going to have something to look forward to."

 

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