Budget Hikes TRICARE Fees, Co-pays

(April 11, 2013) New enrollment fees and increased co-pays for those using TRICARE are in the budget unveiled Wednesday by the White House.

They were not unexpected. The Pentagon is trying to get its health care costs under control and believe asking more of beneficiaries is one way to do it.

Army Times had the details of the budget soon after it was released Wednesday. The publication says working-age retirees under 65 would take the hardest hit. The Pentagon wants to phase in a series of TRICARE Prime enrollment fees over the next four years based on a percentage of retired pay.

Retired generals would see fees increase the most. For those who retired below the rank of general, the annual enrollment for family coverage would be at least $548 in 2014 going up to $594 in 2018, Army Times reports on its website. The maximum would be $750 in 2014 and $1,226 in 2018.

Flag and general officers would see annual enrollment for family coverage go from $900 in 2014 to $1,840 in 2018.

Co-pays for TRICARE Prime retirees and their family members would be $16 per visit, an increase of $4. This applies to visits not related to mental health.

TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra customers who are retired and under the age of 65 would have enrollment fees increased over five years. They would start at $70 for individuals in 2014 and go up to $125 by 2018. Family enrollment fees would go from $140 in 2014 to $250 by 2018.

For 2019 and later, the publication reports, enrollment fees would go up the same as the annual cost-of-living adjustment in retired pay.

Health care deductibles would increase as well for working-age retirees, phased in over five years.

The deductible for individuals would go from the current $150 to $160 in 2014. It would then go up $40 in 2015 and $30 each year from 2016 to 2018. The family deductible would go from $300 now to $320 in 2014. It would go up $80 in 2015 and then jump $60 each year from 2016 to 2018.

Also, a co-pay of $9 would start in 2018 for mail-order generic drug prescriptions through TRICARE. That option now has no cost. 

NGAUS has a full analysis of the budget available here.