The Senate and the House agree on the idea of revising the entire military health system starting from 2017 but they disagree on the measures proposed to make it happen. The current system serves approximately 9 million or more beneficiaries. The draft was submitted last week by the Senate, calling for making two plans based on the current Tricare system. The two systems would the Tricare Choice and the Tricare Prime. In addition, the draft also suggests adding a Tricare supplement for beneficiaries with other types of health insurances.
While the draft is similar to the one submitted by the House earlier on, both the bodies are currently on opposite sides when it comes to paying for the revised benefits. The House recommends charging new beneficiaries an enrollment fee for all the plans after January, 2018. This would include active-duty families and new beneficiaries. On the other hand, the Senate suggests not including any enrollment fees for active duty personnel.
The Senate?s draft slowly transitions into Tricare Choice fees as compared to the recommendations by the Pentagon on the proposed budget.
According to a Senate Armed Services staff member, ??[The House version] would implement for the first time ever enrollment fees for active-duty family members. This is not a place our senators wanted to go.?
Note that both the proposals by the Senate and the House have similar suggestions on retired military personnel not eligible for healthcare plans will pay extra on the plans they choose. According to the Senate, the enrollment fees for Tricare Prime should be increased to $68 per year for an individual. Similarly, the enrollment fees for families should be increased to $135 for families. The new pricing plan should be taken into account start 2018 and increase every year.
On the other hand, retirees who want to choose Tricare Choice would pay $150 per year for an individual. Families would $300 per year. The plans would increase to $450 over five years for individuals and $900 per year for families.
According to Senate staff members, the idea behind this move is to make nominal adjustments over five years to maintain the Pentagon?s budget while improving healthcare quality.
According to a staff member, ?We get input … every year, and their biggest issue was if we are going to tinker with the system, we had to increase the quality of care.?
In addition, the House recognized the current Tricare Prime and Trice Preferred plans considering them as closest to the Senate?s choice. The House?s proposal has a similar fee structured for people who enroll before 2018 until 2020. However, this is conditional based on the Defense Department?s capability of meeting certain criteria for healthcare.
After 2020, if the Department of Defense has proven that it has met the standards, retirees using the Tricare Preferred would start paying $100 as an enrollment fee for an individual. Similarly, the enrollment fee for families would be $200.