TRICARE, the health insurance program for active duty military and their families, has a well-deserved reputation for inadequate quality at an exorbitant public cost:
- A 2008 survey found that 96 percent of physicians accepted new commercially insured patients, 86 percent accepted new patients on Medicare, and 72 accepted new patients on Medicaid. By contrast, between 2008 and 2011, only 58 percent of civilian providers accepted new TRICARE patients.
- Premiums for enrollees have not risen in the 17 years since TRICARE’s inception in 1996. As a result, enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime recipients remain at $38 a month, about 12.5 percent of the average cost of comparable private insurance.
- From 2001 to 2011, general military health care spending grew twice as fast as the rise in the nation’s overall health care costs. The TRICARE program has largely contributed to this growth, tripling over the last decade. TRICARE spending now accounts for about 10 percent of the baseline defense budget.