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Growth in Medical Spending by the Department of Defense

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The Department of Defense DoD faces a growing burden in providing peacetime health care for military personnel, retirees, and their dependents and survivors- who all together number over 8 million. Adjusted for the overall rate of inflation in the U.S. economy, the departments annual spending on medical care almost doubled from 1988 to 2003, rising from 14.6 billion to 27.2 billion. Furthermore, because DoD cut the size of the active-duty force by 38 percent over that same period, medical spending per active-duty service member nearly tripled, rising from 6,600 to 19,600. Medical spending rose from one-quarter to more than one-half of the level of cash compensation defined as basic pay, the housing allowance, and the subsistence allowance, and it is likely to continue to increase. DoD views many of its medical costs as unavoidable. The department argues that it must operate its own in-house system of health care providers and military medical treatment facilities to ensure that U.S. forces will have reliable, high-quality medical care in time of war. Moreover, DoD believes that in peacetime, it needs that inhouse system, together with care purchased from the private sector, to provide the health care benefits necessary to attract and retain high-quality active-duty and reserve forces. CBOs analysis addresses some of the questions raised by the trends in spending growth. What factors explain the historical growth in DoDs medical costs If policies do not change, what levels of spending might be seen in the future What are the implications of current trends in military medical costs for the total costs of military personnel How might various policy changes work either to suppress or accelerate growth in DoDs medical spending

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Medicine and Medical Research

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