In a move to expand alternative health care options to over-65 military retirees, the Department of Defense announced today that it recently expanded the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) demonstration project to include two new over-65 military retiree demonstration sites.
These additional sites are in the surrounding ZIP code areas of Coffee County, Ga., and Adair County, Iowa. They expand one of the department's projects to determine the most feasible way to provide health care for uniformed services Medicare-eligible beneficiaries and certain others. Members of the Military Coalition and the National Military/Veterans Alliance, two consortiums of organizations representing TRICARE beneficiaries, randomly selected "seed" areas for the additional program sites in early April.
This congressionally mandated demonstration project allows certain eligible uniformed services beneficiaries to enroll in, and receive their health care through, a health plan in the FEHBP, the same program used by civilian federal employees and retirees. DoD will contribute the standard government amount, which is almost three-quarters of the plan's premium.
The expanded demonstration will target about 25,000 eligible beneficiaries in each location, increasing to 120,000 the number of beneficiaries eligible for the FEHBP demonstration. The Iowa site encompasses the entire state (except ZIP code areas in the Offutt Air Force Base's catchment area), parts of Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. The second site includes parts of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
The next enrollment opportunity at all demonstration sites, including the two new ones, will begin in November 2000 during the FEHBP's annual enrollment open season. Coverage for new participants will begin Jan. 1, 2001, and will run through Dec. 31, 2002. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers the FEHBP. OPM and DoD jointly administer the DoD/FEHBP demonstration project.
"We are attempting to find the best way to care for our senior beneficiaries," according to Dr. Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs. "We understand their belief in the promise of health care for life, and we want to try to meet it." Continuing, she offered, "These men and women served our country honorably and they deserve our very best efforts."
This fall, DoD will mail "The 2001 Guide to Federal Employees Health Benefits Plans participating in the DoD/FEHBP Demonstration Project" to all eligible persons within the designated ZIP code areas. The guide contains a list of participating health plans, benefits, premiums and other information.
Information will be available in late summer on a series of meetings about the project that will be held in the areas of the new demonstration sites. Beneficiaries who meet eligibility criteria will receive notification by mail. Others may call the DoD/FEHBP Project Call Center toll-free, 1 (877) 363-3342, for further information.
For a complete list of ZIP code areas to be served by the new demonstration sites, and other information about the FEHBP demonstrations, visit the Military Health System website: http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tfl/default.cfm .