If US military members were promised free health care as part of their enlistment then how does the current administration justify them having to pay now?
Ah! Well, it's complicated on the one hand, and very, very easy on the other.Let's start with the easy part: The military is part of the government and the government gets to follow its own rules, no matter what the rules are for everyone else. So, it turns out a lot of people are thinking, gee, our military sure is costly, wish we could figure out a way to trim that budget down some- and that's when you start hearing mutterings about "entitlements". Now, entitlements means something a person is owed, is entitled to have, which certainly encompasses the pay and benefits a member of our military, who has fulfilled his or her contractual obligations, is owed. Problem is, these entitlements are becoming, in some folks' eyes, too costly.According to the US Comptroller report, the US military's pay and allowances- which includes health care costs which have grown 40% since the early 2000s- take 1/3 of the budget. That's a pretty sizeable chunk. In fact, something has got to give- but where and what?Well, let's return to the days of yesteryear, back even before a time when our military went from a conscription force to an All-Volunteer Force to find out how a near-same problem was solved then.After WWII, it was discovered the military simply did not have the facilities to fulfill their contractual obligation to vets- to whit: To provide healthcare at no-cost to active-duty members and their families, and vets and their families. There weren't enough doctors and clinics to do the job. So, the military decided to contract out to civilian medical facilities for family-member health care using these two acts: The Dependents Medical Care Act of 1956 and the Military Medical Benefits Amendments of 1966, these, in turn, morphed into Champus, or Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services. Now, Champus was in play when I first became a military dependent (---now considered a bad word), but I didn't have to use it until I had a few kids who needed health care, and the hospital at Offut AFB, Nebraska, couldn't provide it. So, Champus kicked in. As I recall, while I did not pay any premiums, I did have to pay a co-pay, and find a doctor who accepted Champus or pay any cost over Champus' allowable. I remember it turned out a doctor's office visit allowable cost, in the late 70s, was $25.00 I marveled that anyone could think a doctor would see a person for that little bit of money. If we used Champus, we always paid out of pocket. Still, military medical costs continued to mount. There had to be a better way, a more cost-efficient way, to provide the care that was contractually promised (for a given definition of 'contractual') and control these costs. Which is where Tricare comes in.In the 80s, the military forced members with families to enroll in a new HMO-type service called TriCare (Champus). We had to start paying premiums, and we had to pay co-pays. This angered many vets and members who had entered the service under a "free-for-life" contract, and the colloquial story I remember is a bunch of vets went to Washington with posters from WWII and Korea, printed by Uncle Sam, himself, with fine print that clearly stated members and their families would enjoy free health care for life if the member met certain conditions. These vets sued and won, and so a second class of vets was formed, who received free care at military bases and, tellingly, through the VA system. This is one reason VA costs are so high- because the military tried to control costs by shifting some of those costs onto members, then lost in Court and had to provide care somehow, so shifted that care and costs to the VA, well, VA costs, beauracracy and wait times went up as their own budget went down.Now, a quarter century later, we have active-duty members who must enroll in and pay TriCare premiums as soon as they have a family member, a huge, complex systems adminstrated by the lowest bidder health insurance company willing to take on the job (usually United Health- it now takes me over 2 weeks to get an authorization for an x-ray- that's how costs are being "controlled") all because the military decided it didn't want to play by its own rules, and found a way around those rules by enacting new rules. Which is what the talk is now, too. Instead of keeping its promises to retired veterans and active members, the military is considering making TriCare premiums "comparative" to those of civilians- it's the only way, they say, to control costs. I admit, DH and I pay a miniscule premium monthly, and a small co-pay, and we can still get scripts filled for free at the Post clinic, but, our beef is the hypocrisy of it all. Consider: What would the military have done had DH said, "Yanno, I may have signed up to catch bullets, but this is just getting too rough, and I want to change the rules. I quit, and you can't do anything about it! Nothing- no black mark on my records, no charges, no penalties- AND you still owe me all my benefits every month!"Wouldn't get very far, would it?But that's what the military has done and is considering doing again: They make their own rules, and we who are a part of that service simply follow the rules.And bitch. We still get to bitch.