NDAA Increases Troop Pay; Changes in TriCare are coming
A compromise in the NDAA this year has raised the troop pay to 2.1% instead of the expected 1.6%. The bill also keeps the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) at current levels, a point that has been a stickler for those who feel that it is “ripe for abuse.”
But as we know, the government giveth and the government taketh away.
Troop pay raise
The original troop pay level was only set to be 1.6%, which is significantly below the mandated adjustment.
Lawmakers in the lower chamber noted the alternative would have marked the fourth straight year troops would have seen a lower-than-expected raise.
By law, military pay hikes are supposed to track wage growth in the private sector as measured by the government’s Employment Cost Index (ECI). The basic pay hike in 2016 was capped at 1.3 percent, a full percentage point below the level pegged by the ECI; and in both 2014 and 2015 at 1 percent when 1.8 percent was needed to match wage hikes nationwide.
The basic allowance for housing is set to change beginning in 2017, but will be retained in its current form for the present. But changes may be coming:
“Congress is already supporting a Pentagon plan to slow the growth of Basic Allowance for Housing over five years so service members on average pay 2 percent of their housing costs this year, 3 percent in 2017, 4 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019 and thereafter. Troops won’t see a modification in the allowance until they change duty stations.”
This compromise bill will keep Tricare costs unchanged for current retirees. But troops entering the military in 2018 will pay higher fees, according to Military.com.
“Those new to the military in 2018, however, will see new cost structures once they hit retirement, including annual enrollment fees of at least $900 per family for the new “Tricare Select” option and $700 for Tricare Prime. Active-duty family users new to the force in 2018 or after will be charged fees for the “Select” plan similar to those charged for active-duty families on Standard today, according to the legislation.”
Also please note that as of today, December 1, all CVS pharmacies have been removed from TriCare and Walgreens added in their place. Though the insured can still have their drugs done at CVS, they will have to pay up front for them.
It is unclear if the compromise NDAA bill will be signed by Barack Obama.