170,000 Getting Booted from TRICARE Prime
“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” That was the promise Barack Obama made in 2009, selling his health reform plan that became the Affordable Care Act.
It turns out that’s not even true for federal TRICARE beneficiaries.
If you live more than 40 miles from a military installation, chances are you are no longer welcome with TRICARE Prime. Pentagon officials have announced that most of these retired and surviving widow(ers) will be booted from TRICARE Prime as of October 1.
Most of those affected will have to enroll in TRICARE Standard.
The change will not affect those enrolled in Medicare and using TRICARE for Life, nor will those on active duty. However, the change will affect any adults under age 26 enrolled in the TRICARE Young Adult program, if they are over 40 miles from a military installation.
This is actually a six-month reprieve – officials were originally considering forcing enrollees off of TRICARE Prime as of April 1.
TRICARE officials are looking at making an exception for those within 100 miles of primary care managers if they sign a drive-time access waiver.
What does this mean? According to the Reserve Officers Association of America, you may have to find a new doctor.
Also, your costs will change: You will no longer pay flat co-payments per visit and an annual enrollment fee. Instead, you will have to pay a deductible of $150 per year (for singles) or $300 per year (for families), as well as a 25 percent co-insurance – up to $3,000 per fiscal year.
There is the potential for an exception for retired servicemembers, military families, and young adults to remain in Prime if they reside within 100 miles of an available primary care manager and sign a drive-time access waiver.
The Pentagon estimates that limiting TRICARE Prime coverage to those outside of 40 miles of military installations will save taxpayers some $56 million per year.
TRICARE Standard, incidentally, has higher customer satisfaction ratings than TRICARE Prime, according to the Military Officers Association of America.
Ironically, even as the U.S. government kicks 170,000 of its own retirees, survivors and adult children of servicemembers off of their preferred health insurance plan, the White House still maintains on its website that rumors of people being forced to change doctors or forced off their health care plans is a “myth.”