In order to slow the growth of rising health costs, last week military leaders introduced a new enrollment fee for Veterans subscribing to medicare supplemental insurance. The problem is that this new enrollment fee contradicts free veteran medicare supplemental insurance benefit. The situation is further complicated by the fact that these free benefits had been fought for and eventually granted by Congress as a lifetime benefit. Tom Philpott provides a detailed outline of the stakes at risk in his article published on Military.com.
Enrollment Fee Contradicts Free Veteran Supplemental Insurance Benefits for Their Medicare
Older retirees such as Air Force Master Sgt. Floyd Sears, 81, stand shoulder to shoulder with younger generations of retirees in opposing higher fees being proposed for hard-earned Tricare benefits.
The oldest among them entered service in World War II or during the Korean War. Some completed careers with tours in Vietnam. This older generation of retirees was promised free health care for life, routinely as they reenlisted, if they would serve at least 20 years.
That promise of “free care” is why these retirees fought in federal court and in Congress, aggressively in the 1990s, to have the government acknowledge it and keep it. Even as the court fight was being lost, Congress by 2001 had approved Tricare for Life, designed to be a cost-free insurance supplement to Medicare for older retirees if they agreed to pay — or in most cases, to continue to pay — their Medicare Part B premiums.
…”We are talking about an obligation we made to people to provide them medical care for the rest of their life, based on a compensation package that begins the day that they enlist,” Webb said. “It is not a direct comparison in my view.”
Hale urged Webb to “keep this in the context that we owe them not only good medical care, but we’ve got to provide training and equipment” to the force, “a balanced package,” in this era of tightening defense budgets.
“I totally agree with that,” Webb said. “But what I am saying to you is you can’t renegotiate the front end once the back end is done. This is an obligation that was made to people whose military careers are now done.
If the enrollment fee contradicts free veteran medicare supplemental insurance benefits, than it seems like we are on a very slippery slope. Truly free supplemental insurance is on the chopping block now, but what’s next . If this moves forward, everything is at risk.