Defense Health Care:

Health Care Benefit for Women Comparable to Other Plans

GAO-02-602: Published: May 1, 2002. Publicly Released: May 1, 2002.

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Half of all beneficiaries in the Department of Defense's (DOD) Tricare health care program are women. With a health care system historically oriented towards men, DOD has had to work to ensure that its women beneficiaries receive the full range of medical services they are entitled to, including obstetrical and gynecological care and diagnostic services such as Pap smears and mammograms. TRICARE-covered benefits are in line with American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines and are comparable to women's health benefits offered by two of the largest health plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). DOD also requires some beneficiaries to share in the cost of their health care. Both DOD's and FEHBP's copayments, which are the same for men and women, vary depending on the plan option and the providers selected. Women beneficiaries report being satisfied with the health care benefits they receive under TRICARE. Some women beneficiaries, however, have expressed concerns about obtaining services when they are stationed overseas or in remote areas. Some active duty women are also concerned that command personnel may not understand women's health care needs.

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