Defense Health Care:

Problems with Medical Care Overseas Are Being Addressed

HEHS-95-156: Published: Jul 12, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed beneficiary access to military health care in Europe, focusing on the: (1) availability of health care in military facilities; (2) obstacles in providing military health care; (3) experiences of beneficiaries that have used host nation providers instead of military health care providers; and (4) Department of Defense's (DOD) handling of service delivery problems and beneficiary concerns.

GAO found that: (1) since the downsizing of U.S. military personnel in Europe, beneficiaries have found it difficult to obtain health services at overseas military facilities; (2) although beneficiaries have access to primary health care services, their access to specialty and dental care services is limited; (3) the reduced military health care system has resulted in DOD relying on the German and Italian medical systems to provide health services to beneficiaries; and (4) beneficiaries must contend with language barriers, cultural differences, unfamiliar doctors, and the general lack of information about how to obtain host nation health care. In addition, GAO found that DOD: (1) is developing an interservice health care plan for all beneficiaries in Europe; (2) has hired liason personnel to help beneficiaries obtain health care from German and Italian health care providers; and (3) plans to contract for services to monitor the care that beneficiaries receive from host nation providers, an education program that explains beneficiary health care options in Europe, and the translation of host nation medical records.

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