TRICARE Toolkit: TRICARE vs. Civilian Health Care

TRICARE Toolkit: TRICARE vs. Civilian Health Care
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TRICARE-Toolkit-logo-draft.jpgMOAA’s TRICARE Toolkit provides insight and tips for navigating your TRICARE benefits. Have a question or suggestion for an upcoming column? Email Read other TRICARE Toolkit columns at


Retirees, surviving spouses, and their families have experienced significant cost-share increases for their TRICARE benefits over the past couple of military budgets. Increases in pharmacy costs, copayments, catastrophic caps, annual deductibles, and a new enrollment fee for TRICARE Select users continue to erode the overall benefit.


MOAA perseveres as an advocate leader in ongoing efforts against cost-sharing increases to this hard-earned service benefit.


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Many military retirees have limited knowledge of what their civilian counterparts pay for comparable employer-provided health care coverage. But a well-informed constituency is fundamental to waging battles with Pentagon and Capitol Hill influencers against TRICARE fee increases. 


In 2021, the average employer-provided family health care plan cost $22,221, a 4.1% increase from 2020. Family coverage premiums have increased 41% since 2012 and 178% since 2002. Employees covered under these plans typically pay about 28% of the overall premium, or $5,969 a year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.


Employees covered under these plans typically pay about 26% of the overall premium, or $5,588 a year, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Our civilian counterparts pay significantly higher premiums and deductibles for similar health care benefits. Health care costs for all are projected to increase at 5.4% each year until 2028, driven by inflation and an aging U.S. population, according to a Health Affairs research project. 


TRICARE fees will remain on MOAA’s radar screen for the foreseeable future. MOAA believes military retirees, families, and survivors earned their relatively low-cost health care benefits through service and sacrifice. Attempts at comparisons are inevitable when discussing national budget outlays, which makes it crucial to understand them in order to set and meet our advocacy goals.


Have More Questions About Your Health Care Benefit?

MOAA's 2021-2022 TRICARE Guide answers some commonly asked questions.


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About the Author

Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret)
Capt. Paul J. Frost, AFC®, USN (Ret)

Frost co-leads MOAA's Financial and Benefits Education program and is also an accredited Veteran Service Officer (VSO), providing VA disability compensation claim and appeal information and advice to the military community.