I'm not sure yet where this diary is going. I'm a retired, disabled veteran and although I could purchase health care through my employer, I use Tricare because it is a vastly better deal.
Let's get to the Cat Food part of this diary: Among its other recommendations, the Deficit Commission has recommended sharp increases to the cost of Tricare for family members and retirees. To a degree, I'm okay with that. But wait, it gets better.
Before I get too far into this, I should say that I believe the current cost of Tricare premiums is too low and there should be a rate increase. I currently pay about $860 per year to insure a family of six. Thank you, taxpayers but that is just a bit too generous and it wouldn't bug me in the slightest to pay a few thousand dollars more per year in premiums. Really.
Let's set the Wayback Machine to 1981 when I first enlisted and free health care for life was part of the enticement (on a space-available basis thru a program called CHAMPUS). We already lost that; Tricare is the for-fee HMO that became available in 1993. Tricare is what I think national health insurance should be: good service provided for reasonable premiums by a combination of government facilities and the private sector.
From my perspective as retiree who now works in the private sector, Tricare's major benefit is its portability: I am not chained to my employer's health care plan. I have a degree of employment freedom that I think everyone should have and I don't relish seeing curtailed for myself. Another aspect of having portable health care is that I don't add the cost of my health care to my employer's payroll. Common sense tells me that's a hiring advantage. Again, I think a national insurance plan should take health insurance out of the payroll equation, and I don't relish seeing the potential cost of my own health care become a hiring discriminator for future employers.
As I said, I have no problem with a "sharp increase" in premiums. But "sharp increase" isn't what the Deficit Commission has in mind for working military retirees.
The commission wants working military retirees off Tricare--period. To achieve this they are recommending that employers of military retirees be forced to pay Tricare for the difference between the cost of Tricare and the cost of the employer-offered plan. In my view this creates two classes of military retirees--those who don't work and would continue to access Tricare albeit at higher premiums, and those who do work and would suddenly be faced with either leaving Tricare for employer-provided insurance or placing a financial burden on their employer in the form of forced compensation to Tricare. Health could become a hiring factor for people whose physical condition is a consequence of national service.
I'm sure there's an element of sake-induced bitching in this diary (raspberry flavored Hana, which is exquisite). I don't want a gold-plated health care plan but I do think that the nation should stand by deals it has already made with its veterans. We've already paid for the common good once with our bodies and twice with our individual freedoms; it's a bit tacky to ask us to pay a third time in treasure.