October 1 marked an unwelcome change in military benefits for some retirees. The beginning of the month signaled increases to TRICARE Prime fees, which jumped by as much as 17 percent for some military families, according to Army Times.
The change in policy affects certain retirees differently. For instance, those who enrolled in the program on or after October 1 of last year will pay an annual fee of $269.28 for an individual policy, up more than $9 from the previous rate. For families, it jumped from $520 to $538.56. The increase is even more significant for retirees who enrolled before October 1, 2011. Their rates will grow from $230 to the current levels for individuals and from $460 for families.
The increase comes as a of result a stipulation in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which said that TRICARE Prime fees can be subject to an annual increase that falls in line with cost of living adjustments. This marks the second time since 1995 the program has seen a fee increase.
The increases to TRICARE Prime are part of an ongoing effort by the Department of Defense to help reduce the burden healthcare costs are putting on an already-strained budget. According to The Huffington Post, expenditures on healthcare reached $53 billion in 2011, almost three times the rate in 2001.