Defense Health Care:

Issues and Challenges Confronting Military Medicine

HEHS-95-104: Published: Mar 22, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Military Health Services System (MHSS), focusing on the Department of Defense's (DOD) problems in operating MHSS, and management challenges now facing DOD.

GAO found that: (1) MHSS offers health care to about 8.3 million people at a cost of over $15 billion annually; (2) MHSS provides services through a system of medical centers, smaller hospitals, and clinics, and through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services; (3) DOD has had problems providing adequate medical support to deployed forces, including inadequate training, missing equipment, and large numbers of nondeployable forces; (4) DOD is examining the impact of a smaller force to determine the optimal size and structure of its medical force; (5) DOD initiated a series of demonstration programs to explore different means of more cost-effectively managing the care it provides and funds; (6) DOD began TRICARE, a nationwide managed care program, in 1993, to improve beneficiary access to care while containing system costs; (7) TRICARE must address emerging operational challenges if it is to achieve its goals; and (8) including military beneficiaries under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program may be an alternative if TRICARE does not meet its objectives.

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