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Highlights

The Department of Defense (DOD) provides health care through its TRICARE program. Under TRICARE, beneficiaries may obtain care through a managed care option that requires enrollment and the use of civilian provider networks, which are developed and managed by contractors. Beneficiaries who do not enroll may receive care through TRICARE Standard, a fee-for-service option, using nonnetwork civilian providers or through TRICARE Extra, a preferred provider organization option, using network civilian providers. Nonenrolled beneficiaries in some locations have reported difficulties finding civilian providers who will accept them as patients. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2004 directed GAO to provide information on access to care for nonenrolled TRICARE beneficiaries. This report describes (1) how DOD and its contractors evaluate nonenrolled beneficiaries' access to care and the results of these evaluations; (2) impediments to civilian provider acceptance of nonenrolled beneficiaries, and how they are being addressed; and (3) how DOD has implemented the NDAA fiscal year 2004 requirements to take actions to ensure nonenrolled beneficiaries' access to care. To address these objectives, GAO examined DOD's survey results and DOD and contractor documents and interviewed DOD and contractor officials.

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