Currently, the active military, National Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, their families, survivors and certain former spouses receive their health care from TRICARE. On the TRICARE website, the program is described as follows: TRICARE brings together health care resources of the uniformed services and supplements them with networks of civilian health care professionals, institutions, pharmacies and suppliers to provide access to high-quality health care services while maintaining the capability to support military operations. Under the eligibility requirements, it states TRICARE serves approximately 9.6 million beneficiaries worldwide. To be eligible for TRICARE, one must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.
I’ve treated many patients from the military that have TRICARE. They have always expressed a general satisfaction with this health insurance program. And, from the perspective of a practicing physician, unlike so many of our health plans, especially one of our abject governmental failures, Medicaid, TRICARE actually reimbursed doctors at a fair and reasonable rate. To the concern of most of our armed forces and their families, and the attending physicians this is all about to change.
Recently, the current administration unveiled their intentions of forcing active duty service members and veterans off of TRICARE, and into the state-run healthcare exchanges being established by each individual state as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees was to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in TRICARE and eventually opt out of TRICARE altogether, in favor of the alternative plans established by the PPACA.
The manner in which these military personnel and their families will be shifted over to the state exchanges comes from yet another troubling technique used by the Obama administration, the plan is to increase the current TRICARE premiums between 30 % and 78% the first year and then increasing the premiums to a whopping 94% to 345% every five years thereafter. With increased premiums like this, how could anyone who receives TRICARE choose to remain on this health plan, simply due to the exorbitant cost of premiums?
You have heard it said that statistics can be twisted in such a way that the numbers support whatever the intended premise. Well, this tactic isn’t entirely unrelated. Allow me to try and explain. The PPACA recommends that each and every state develops their own state run health insurance exchange. The idea is that the states then take charge of providing health insurance for all of their uninsured. If a state opts out of developing a state exchange, then the federal plan (or a national Medicaid program that is being developed) will be made available to each of those uninsured from that specific state. Other incentives for each state to participate are the state will only receive federal dollars to help design, implement and maintain their state exchange/exchanges. Or, another way to state this, if increasing premiums can control behavior and basically force military personnel to switch to a different insurance company works, then wouldn’t withholding federal funding for states who choose to not develop state exchanges for their uninsured citizens have a similar, albeit, converse effect?
However, the reality is that the states will soon realize that developing state exchanges that are designed to insure the current uninsured will prove to be highly expensive, especially since many of the uninsured are without health insurance because of some pre-existing condition that makes health coverage expensive, but not to worry, insurances (especially exchanges) cannot exclude patients for pre-existing conditions any more. That’s one of the mandates within the PPACA! So, ultimately, states will attempt to develop state exchanges, until they realize just how expensive they are, and then they will choose to opt out, and the uninsured citizens of their particular state will be placed on the national plan. Many experts believe the intention is to ultimately have every person on a single payer insurance plan, one size fits all. So, similar to manipulating statistics, the federal government is able to manipulate its citizens. And the driving force behind every single decision is money.
As service men and women are squeezed out of TRICARE and into ObamaCare due to the excessive premium hikes, the current administration believes they can save $1.8 billion from TRICARE by 2013 and $12.9 billion from TRICARE by 2017. What makes this so disturbing is that they then turn around and report that these “savings” have been brought about directly from implementation of the PPACA. Pardon me, but it looks as if all that they have accomplished is forcing our military men and women off of a health insurance plan that they overwhelmingly supported, and forced on them a plan that we don’t even know how it will be received. One thing is certain, however, just because you force someone to change from one plan to another doesn’t translate into actual savings, in fact, it will likely lead to higher costs, just imposed upon the American tax-payers.
Lastly, the Obama administration spent $20.5 billion on the green energy grants and loans to the Department of Energy, in order to incentivize the development of alternative energy sources for America, and 80% of these grants and loans went to companies owned or tied to President Obama’s top fundraisers. Shouldn’t our armed forces and military personnel be worth more than the green energy companies, especially if this $20.5 billion is simply a payout for past donations and campaign support? Unfortunately, you won’t hear any of these discussion in the mainstream media.