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Tricare Prime fees to rise for new retirees

Sep. 30, 2011 - 09:25AM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 30, 2011 - 09:25AM  |  
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New military retirees will pay a little more for health care starting Saturday.

As of Oct. 1, annual fees for Tricare Prime coverage will increase by $30, to $260 a year, for individuals, and by $60, to $520 a year, for retirees with families, but only for retirees who are new to Prime.

Retirees already enrolled in Prime will pay the current rates $230 for members and $460 a year for families until Oct. 1, 2012. At that point, their annual fees are likely to rise, based on provisions in the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill that is pending in Congress.

That bill contains a plan drafted by Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, allowing the Defense Department to increase Tricare fees in increments to match the percentage rise in pay that retirees receive each year as a cost-of-living adjustment in their military retired pay.

The Defense Department had proposed increasing Tricare rates for working retirees by 5 percent to 6 percent to stay on par with rising medical inflation. But the McKeon plan, honed with help from Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is likely to result in an annual rate increase of 2 percent a year, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis.

The new rates that take effect Oct. 1 translate into monthly increases of $2.50 for individuals and $5 for retirees and families.

Active-duty service members and their families pay no annual fees for Tricare enrollment, and the increase will not apply to survivors of deceased active-duty sponsors and medically retired service members and eligible family members, Tricare said.

"This modest annual fee increase allows us to responsibly manage our costs in line with other … initiatives announced earlier this year," said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson in a prepared statement.

Co-payments for inpatient and outpatient services will stay the same, and the catastrophic cap will remain at $3,000, the Tricare Management Activity said.

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