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Tricare Prime fees jump 17 percent for some

Oct. 1, 2012 - 11:23AM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 1, 2012 - 11:23AM  |  
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Military retirees enrolled in Tricare Prime saw a dip in their net retirement pay recently: Annual fees for the health benefit increased as of Oct. 1.

The fees rise by 3.6 percent for some retired military members and their families and by 17 percent for most. Those facing the 17 percent increase will pay between about $3 and $6 more per month, if they pay the fees monthly. The Tricare Prime annual enrollment fee may also be paid quarterly or in one annual lump sum.

Military retirees who enrolled in the system on or after Oct. 1, 2011, and all new beneficiaries will pay $269.28 a year for an individual, up from $260, and $538.56 for a family, up from $520.

Those who were in Prime before Oct. 1, 2011, will see their annual fees increase from to $269.28 from $230 for individuals and to $538.56 from $460 for families.

Affected retirees and family members received notification of the increase by mail in August.

The fee increases are within limits set by Congress last year. Legislation passed in 2011 restricted the amount the Pentagon can increase annual fees to the annual military cost-of-living adjustment. The 3.6 percent increase is equal to the most recent cost-of-living adjustment in military retired pay for 2012.

The one-time 17 percent increase for the majority of retirees resulted from a previous legislative decision to place a one-year freeze on enrollment fees for those already enrolled in Prime before Oct. 1, 2011.

The 2012 Defense Authorization Act created the two-tiered fee structure only for fiscal 2012, which just ended on Sept. 30.

The Obama administration had pressed for heftier increases in its proposed fiscal 2013 defense budget along with new enrollment fees for Tricare Standard, Extra and Tricare For Life, the health benefit for Medicare-eligible retirees and their families.

The proposal was struck down by the House and Senate Armed Services committees on a bipartisan basis.

Survivors of personnel who die on active duty or medically retired uniformed service members and their families are exempt from the fee increases. Their enrollment fees remain frozen at the rate they paid when first enrolled, as long as they do not have a break in Prime coverage.

The fee increase marks the second since the program was created in 1995.

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