Stars and Stripes
Published: April 24, 2012
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Tricare says plans to temporarily replace its troubled retiree health insurance system in the Philippines with an experimental closed network of providers will start early next year, months later than originally announced.
Cities with large populations of retirees such
The closed network – which had been scheduled to
go online this spring – is designed to put an end to years of fraud and
ballooning program costs. Tricare officials say it also should reduce health
insurance red tape for thousands of aging servicemembers
who have retired to the
The first phase of the network will cover
The agency had said the project would be up and
running this spring but did not elaborate on the apparent delay. Tricare plans
to continue the experiment until December 2015 when it will weigh the benefits
of the changes and decide on the future of the
Tricare has said all retirees will be required to use the new network. Under the plan, participating health care providers will be required to file their insurance claims directly to the agency, meaning beneficiaries on fixed incomes no longer will have to pay for medical procedures up front and wait for reimbursement.
So far, no hospitals or doctors have agreed to participate.
“Recruitment is not yet under way” but the
agency has hired its existing
Last year, the Defense Department’s Inspector
General criticized the contractor for not properly certifying providers or
authenticating insurance claims as part of the existing Tricare system in the
Camacho said International SOS will compile a new list of providers for the experimental network as part of its overseas contract and that list will be posted on Tricare’s website two months before the project begins.
But some retirees worry the agency will be hard-pressed to find Philippine hospitals and doctors willing to take part.
Bob Lowe, a retiree and cancer patient who is
receiving treatment in
“All indications are the good docs and medical institutions will have nothing to do with this program and they have no need to make room in their waiting rooms that are already full of paying patients for Tricare patients that they may or may not get paid to treat,” Lowe wrote in an email.