The Department of Defense announced today that it has begun the third annual health care survey of DoD beneficiaries. This comprehensive, Congressionally directed survey effort is designed to learn how beneficiaries view their health, as well as their use, access to and satisfaction with health care services. This information provides decision makers within the Military Health Services System (MHSS) the perspectives of various "customers" whether they consider the MHSS a regular source of their care, use military treatment facility services, civilian services, or none at all.
This survey, the third of its kind, will promote the comparison of DoD healthcare and the health of its beneficiaries to national yardsticks of health status and satisfaction. With further iterations, the DoD will be able to follow the trends of key statistics as part of a comprehensive effort to improve the delivery of care.
Individuals have been selected at random to voluntarily participate in one of two studies. One hundred and fifty thousand active duty and retired military and their family members over the age of 18 will receive questionnaires (Form A) and asked to comment on their own health status and health care. An additional 30,000 parents or guardians of dependent children and adolescents under the age of 18 will receive questionnaires (Form C) and be asked to comment on the health and health care of those dependents. The focus of Form C surveys is on healthcare issues specific to children and adolescents. Responses for both Form A and C will be weighted to represent the views all DoD beneficiaries.
"The results of these surveys give us tremendous insight into how our beneficiaries perceive their own health and how, as a system of health care delivery, we can better serve them," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Edward D. Martin.
An important, new component of the survey for 1997 is a series of questions concerning aspects of the TRICARE managed care program. The intent of this section is to follow program implementation and chart future program improvements. Key areas of interest concerning the TRICARE program include beneficiary satisfaction with:
- Appointments and waiting times for office visits
- Satisfaction with both military and civilian primary care managers
- Knowledge and source of information concerning the program
The Department is urging all beneficiaries to complete this survey if they are sampled to ensure that the results are truly representative of the DoD population. Historically, active duty service members have been least likely to respond - in part due to their relative youth and good health. The Department is recommending that active duty members complete the survey so their voice can be heard.
United HealthCare and its subcontractors are under contract to work with health policy analysts of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the operational and analytic phases of the survey. Survey results will be given widest possible dissemination while protecting individual privacy and confidentiality of survey responses.