The U.S. Department of Defense cannot tell whether a new TRICARE coordination of benefits rule is actually saving any money.”

Officials at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have come to that conclusion after looking at the effects of Section 707 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 on TRICARE.

Total Defense Department health care spending has increased to $49 billion, or 9% of department spending, from $19 billion, or 6% of department spending, in 2001.

TRICARE is a program that the government uses to provide health coverage for military retirees, dependents and active-duty military personnel who seek care away from military and veterans facilities.

Section 707 now forbids employers with 20 or more employees from using financial incentives to encourage employees who might be eligible for TRICARE military retiree benefits to enroll in TRICARE.

Members of Congress were hoping the Section 707 change could save $436 million from 2010 through 2015.

In the real world, the department “reported that it was not able to determine the effects of Section 707 on TRICARE participation and costs after the law went into effect because of data limitations and multiple factors affecting the health insurance choices of retirees and their dependents under age 65,” Debra Draper, says in a letter summarizing the GAO’s findings.

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