posted on March 01, 2011 00:11
March 2011 Navy
By CAPT Tom McAtee
DOD Plans TRICARE Coverage for Older Children (Spring 2011)
The Defense Department has finally formalized its plan to expand TRICARE coverage for dependent children through age 26. This will bring the military’s policy in line with the national health care reform law enacted last year. The plan, called the TRICARE Young Adult Program, will offer TRICARE Standard benefits beginning in the Spring of 2011. To be eligible, older dependent children must be unmarried and must not be eligible for their own employersponsored health insurance. They will be able to purchase the TRICARE coverage on a month-to-month basis. The monthly cost has not yet been disclosed. The law that authorizes the TRICARE expansion requires that the full cost of the coverage for older children must be paid by beneficiaries, with no subsidies from the Defense Department. Premiums reflecting 100 percent of the costs may push the premiums too high for many families to afford. Important note: Once enrollment begins in the Spring, coverage will be retroactive to 1 Jan. 2011. This means eligible family members who receive health care between now and the date the program is fully in place should save their receipts if they want to file for retroactive reimbursement. Monthly premiums will also have to paid back to 1 Jan in order to obtain reimbursement.
DOD Explains Military Health Costs and Why Premiums Should Be Raised Bt Do Not Explain What Their "Modest Premium" Inscrease Would Cost Retirees
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is seeking modest premium increases in FY 2012 for working-age military retirees who use the TRICARE Prime health plan. However, proposed premium increases have yet to be defined. DoD’s only clue to premium increases is that fees would be indexed to adjust for medical inflation. Working-age retirees are targeted because many of these beneficiaries are employed full-time while receiving their full pensions, and often forego their employers’ health plan to remain with TRICARE. This should not come as a surprise, given that the current TRICARE enrollment fee was set in 1995 at $460 a year for the basic family plan and has not been raised since. TRICARE Prime, the managed-care option that covers all active-duty members and many retirees, costs the government $4,202 per beneficiary per year. TRICARE Standard, the program’s fee-for-service plan, costs $3,584 per beneficiary per year. TRICARE for Life, for beneficiaries age 65 and older, costs the government $3,874 per patient per year.
Little Interest in TRICARE REtired Reserve Health Plan
The new health care program offered to “gray area” retired Reservists has only attracted a few hundred people out of nearly 10,000 eligible. With monthly premiums exceeding $400 a month for individual coverage and more than $1,000 for family coverage, the costs are similar to private-sector health insurance. Many of those who have signed up have pre-existing medical conditions that make getting private-sector insurance difficult. For those, the program has been a valuable benefit.
Navy Personnel Command Launches New Record Review Tools for Command Leaders
Command leaders can now view their service members’ Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) with OMPFCommand View, a new tool launched on BUPERS Online (BOL) by Navy Personnel Command (NPC). NAVADMIN 398/10 contains full details on the new system. Since 83 percent of paper enlisted field service records have already been closed out, OMPF-Command View fulfills the need for commands to review those records electronically. OMPF-Command View offers those with “need to know” secure access to service record documents not contained in the Electronic Service Record (ESR), such as enlistment documents, performance evaluations, DD 214 discharge certificates and others. OMPF-Command View combined with ESR Command View, gives command leaders the tools needed to review a Sailor’s information found in the old field service record of both officers and enlisted. Personnel data is secure with both command view tools. Access is limited to those with a legitimate need to view the Sailors’ records and the command will control who has access. Questions from the fleet about OMPF-Command View can be addressed by the NPC Customer Service Center toll-free at (866) 827-5672.
Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Rates Decline
Average BAH rates will fall slightly in 2011 for the first time. Effective 1 Jan. 2011, rates will slip about 0.6 percent and will affect some service members in most of the military housing areas. The lower rates will affect only those service members who move into a new area this year. The military’s “individual rate protection” policy ensures that troops already settled in a location will not see their BAH decrease for as long as they remain in that location.