Originally created 02/27/06

Insurance bite too deep for retired vets



Military retirees in our area and across the nation cannot be happy with the Pentagon's plan to triple health insurance premiums for them and their families. We agree it's a bit much.

Some kind of increase may be justified, but not tripling the current rates.

The DOD proposal would boost the annual family health insurance premium for a retired officer with at least 20 years of service to $1,400 from $460 by 2008. Premiums for a retired officer with single coverage would jump from $230 to $700. A retired noncommissioned officer would see annual family coverage rise to as much as $950 from $460, and single coverage from $230 to $475 over the next two years.

Don't forget many retirees are on fixed incomes, and those kind of increases can be quite a jolt. As one spokesman for the Association of the U.S. Army put it, "I think it breaks with the promise the Department of Defense has implied all these years, which is that men and women who have dedicated their lives to service, who have fought wars and defended the nation, would get health care for life."

A Pentagon spokesman responded that the premium increases are overdue - that they haven't gone up in a decade. Maybe they should have, because incremental increases are easier to handle than a large, unexpected increase.

Some veterans groups also are displeased that the premium boosts seem designed to help pay for new or expanded weapons systems, including warships and jet fighters.

Those systems may be necessary, but they shouldn't come at the expense of health care costs of retirees and their families who have already sacrificed enough for their country.