There are several areas of the military that are exempt from sequestration. Basic pay, allowance for housing and veterans healthcare will not be affected by the across-the-board cuts, should they occur. However, for active duty troops TRICARE is not immune to the cuts and analysts say the Department of Defense (DoD) would have to reallocate $3 billion to maintain health benefits, reports Military Times.
TRICARE is not exempt because it falls under the umbrella of the Pentagon's operations and maintenance programs, which were not excluded from language in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The threat of TRICARE cuts comes as Congress has rejected several proposals aimed at avoiding them, such as raising the enrollment fees for retirees.
A fee increase for retirees may be the only option as healthcare spending is one of the biggest expenses faced by the military. Some experts estimate that military health spending represents about 9.5 percent of the defense budget, or about $52.5 billion in 2012, according to Forbes. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs spends about $51 billion for healthcare.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the future of military healthcare, it may behoove military families to look into other options such as the TRICARE Supplement Plan from AFBA, which lowers out-of-pocket expenses.