I want you: But Not Your Kids, Familes, or Pets…….. (TRICARE families report worse access to care than commercially insured, uninsured)

“Families who are covered through TRICARE report worse access to healthcare than people with private plans—and even the uninsured, according to a new study (1).”

Alright, alright, maybe adding the pets to the title was pushing it, but it’s meant to be sarcastic anyway. Deplorable, despicable, unthinkable. But the title isn’t exactly the whole picture of the study. The study itself (2) reports on barriers to care and not willful neglect or access shortcomings:

“Children in military families, who receive health insurance through the TRICARE program, face barriers to care such as frequent relocations, unique behavioral health needs, increased complex health care needs, and lack of accessible specialty care (2).”

            Having been a Soldier in the Army, it’s the barriers that limit access, not the actual Tri-Care itself. Other people may have different experiences, but after 25 in the Army, with 3 kids, our needs were always met. I am but one beneficiary. The study professed that how TRICARE-insured families perceive health care access and quality for their children compared to their civilian peers’ perceptions remains unknown. The study reported:

“Military families whose children had complex health or behavioral health care needs reported worse health care access and quality than similar nonmilitary families (2).

            I can’t argue with the perceptions of the families reporting. But the title of the article seems to sensationalize the plight of military families. The data points of (a) complex health, and (b) behavioral health needs is a far cry from the global insinuation of the title “TRICARE families report worse access to care.” The article says “The purpose of this paper is really to highlight where there is a need and hope that those who are in a position to act upon and make the changes dive more into this area.” It’s not to bash Tri-Care as if Tricare itself sucks. Are there gaps? Sure there are as with everything, nothing is perfect, but the study concludes with a reasonable statement:

“Addressing these gaps may require military leaders to examine barriers to achieving acceptable health care access across military treatment facilities and off-base nonmilitary specialty providers, particularly for children with complex health or behavioral health needs (2).”

            The article did summarize a good point:

“Solutions that could be considered, according to the study, include reducing the administrative steps needed to allow families to seek care off-base, more effectively monitoring how resources within military medical facilities are deployed and identifying where there are the most notable geographic access gaps (1).”

But hey…….. Let’s fill those gaps

REFERENCES

1. https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/payer/tricare-families-report-worse-access-than-commercially-insured-uninsured

2. https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/pdf/10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00274

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