- Cullman, Alabama

December 10, 2012

LETTER TO EDITOR: Reader disagrees with Post editorial

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — The Tricare editorial taken from the Washington Post published on December 6, 2012 contains several errors. The first is that the out of pocket expenses for military retirees and family are capped at $3,000 per year not $1,000. One thousand dollars applies to active duty service members only.  Additionally, the statement “... which give retirees of working age little incentive to economize or choose employer plans.” is in error. There is a 20 percent retiree co-payment. Allowable reimbursement amounts (like all medical insurance policies) are set by Tricare regardless of actual bill. Thus the cost of billings above 80 percent of the Tricare accepted rate are borne by the recipient. The Tricare recipient will seek out providers who bill within Tricare guidelines. Finally, by law Tricare becomes automatically supplemental if a recipient is covered by any other employer provided health plan thus reducing government costs.

Current military retirees were recruited with a promise of free health care for life by the Department of Defense (DoD), if they met retirement criteria.  Tricare charges have been tested in Federal Court. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed that DoD had promised free healthcare. However, it ruled that only Congress could set an “entitlement” and thus DoD was not bound to keep the promise. This broken promise includes our World War II, Korea and Vietnam retired veterans. Military retirees over 65 are now in “Tricare for Life” which is supplemental to Medicare.

This is the second “negative” editorial regarding military personnel costs in recent weeks with significant factual errors. The author is puzzled at The Cullman Times position on this matter, but appreciates a free press. However, before leveling your pen at active duty and retired military members regarding entitlements it would be prudent to check your facts even if republishing.

Donald F. Smith

Captain, Supply Corp, U.S. Navy (ret)