Reprinted from: Exotic Research Report (Volume 1, Issue 1; Jan/Feb/Mar 1996)

Another Broken Promise...
In the past, it was an implied promise to the service men of our country that they would receive FREE medical treatment for active duty personnel, dependents, and retired veterans. The DoD even acknowledges that this impression was promoted heavily during the Cold War. This was a good reason to give up your civilian life, join the military, and, in service to your country, get placed in harm’s way.

Soldiers trust their Government. Yet, as recently as the Gulf War, the Government gave our soldiers experimental drugs. Now they deny it and the side effects. Between this and the new TRICARE health system, the trust is wearing thin.

Another broken promise... this is a outrage to our service members, retired veterans, dependents... all of whom sacrifice their lifestyles to serve their country. But if they can do this to the military members, they can do it to other programs — like Social Security!

The Big Secret?...
Being a military dependent for nine years, I went to Evans Army Hospital at Ft. Carson, Colorado, to obtain some information on this new TRICARE program. I went into the Patient Affairs office, gathered some materials, engaged in conversation with an official, and mentioned that I was writing an article.

He then informed me that I could not take the pamphlets. I asked if the material was free to the public. He stated that it was, but that I had to obtain permission from patient affairs first. I then asked, “Why? I am an army dependent.” He was unrelenting and would not allow me this information.

I left wondering what were they hiding? Are they trying to downplay this new medical plan because it’s not so wonderful after all?

On the way out the door, I snagged a few pamphlets from another office. I read the pamphlets I did get my hands on only to find mass confusion, no real facts , and phrases like Enhanced Benefits, and Keep you and your family healthy. The pamphlets were full of cliches and contradictions. In short, for the most part they are just plain unintelligible.

At any rate here is one of the better pamphlets in its entirety:

  • TRICARE is a regional managed care program. It will go into effect nationwide over the next several years. TRICARE is scheduled to begin in Region 8, which includes Colorado, in November 1996 and is scheduled for all regions by 1997.
  • TRICARE is to offer better access to care, better quality of care and cut costs to the beneficiary and to the government.
  • For CHAMPUS eligible individuals TRICARE offers three choices: -
    • TRICARE PRIME: A voluntary enrollment option. Families will enroll for a one year period, and will receive their health care from the Prime network of civilian and military providers. Retirees and their family members pay an annual enrollment fee of $230 for an individual or $460 for a family. There will be no enrollment fee for active duty and their family members. Patients treated in military hospitals will continue to receive care in those facilities without having to share in the cost of the services provided. There will be charges if the patient is seen by a network provider in a civilian setting. The charges will be considerably less than is currently paid under basic CHAMPUS.
    • TRICARE EXTRA: In this option, you do not have to enroll or pay an annual fee. On a visit-by-visit basis, you may seek care from a provider who is part of the TRICARE Extra Network, and get a discount on services, and reduced cost-shares. Also, you will not have to file any claim forms when using network providers. You will be able to get a list of the TRICARE Extra providers by contacting the “health care finders” located in the TRICARE service center, when it is established in 1996, in your region.
    • TRICARE STANDARD: This option is the same as the regular CHAMPUS program. It pays a share of the cost of covered health care services that you obtain from a non- network civilian health care provider. There is no enrollment in TRICARE standard. You will pay the normal CHAMPUS deductibles for outpatient care, and your cost- sharing percentages will be the same as for regular CHAMPUS. You will have to file claims if your provider declines to do so.
  • Medicare eligible persons 65 or older may seek care in the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) on a space available basis. They are not eligible at this time to enroll in TRICARE Prime. Medicare eligible beneficiaries over 65 may use the ‘health care finders” to obtain an appointment with a network provider who agrees to participate in Medicare, or they may use standard Medicare.
  • Enrollment into the Military Treatment Facility’s TRICARE Prime option will be offered to active duty and active duty family members before being offered to other beneficiaries. Since space availability in the MTF will be extremely limited for non-enrollees, retirees should consider purchasing CHAMPUS supplemental insurance, Medicare Part B, and Medicare Supplemental insurance.

  • Mass Confusion... Everywhere
    After reading all of the material, I found it somewhat confusing. I decided to try for the rest of the information. This time the administration office informed me that indeed this information was public and gave me all the materials I had selected previously. The other pamphlets had exactly the same information, but they had restructured the paragraphs.

    What I have found is a good case of evading the facts — Governmental sidestepping. They have charts on rates, copayments, etc. The material is written in a manner that is certain to confuse. In fact, one of the pamphlets intended for those seeking care contains a chart showing how to become a health care provider.

    What is even worse, this program is being written as it goes along and information is limited to a small handful of pamphlets. We have to wait until Summer 1996 for more information, and a list of clinics.<

    Age Discrimination
    At this time, the hardest hit are the elderly retirees. If you are 65 or older, you can only get space-available care. You are not eligible for Tricare, and you must go to other health providers if you can find the information, and read the extremely fine print. In other words, the older retirees are being forced in programs at the State level and releasing the Federal Government from its obligations.

    If you’re Active Duty, of any age, you are not out the woods yet. The charts are structured to allow rates in the future. Right now they are free. In the future, expect to pay!

    It appears that Hillary's National Health Care Program, which was soundly rejected by the nation, has been resuscitated and foisted upon a captive audience. Is this really what we want to do to the people who have served their country well._Mechelle

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