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No. of Recommendations: 11
Any thoughts? - Am I missing something or is it just greed?

Be gentle. Tricare is a horrible HMO from both provider and patient perspectives.

From the provider perspective, Tricare has far too many rules, far too much paperwork, far too little consistency, and far too long decision cycles. You may want to ask your provider why he or she is dropping Tricare. The answer will be eye-opening.

You obviously have your own experiences as a patient. From my perspective the health care Tricare offers is at the bottom end of what's available in the community. Getting appointments takes forever, and then the providers cancel appointments with no notice. The providers themselves are minimally proficient in their chosen fields of expertise. The support staff demonstrates a caring attitude that would be unacceptable at the DMV.

In contrast, when my father-in-law became ill during a visit, I called his HMO. The HMO called back in about 10 minutes with an appointment at the local medical center. The medical center staff greeted him with respect, treated him to his satisfaction, and a few days later the HMO called him to see if he needed follow-up care. There are good HMOs out there.

I suggest a letter to your elected representatives in Wash DC would be more effective than a letter to your newspaper editor. A lot of Tricare's problems trace back to insufficient funding. Congress figured health care was too expensive, and the solution was to cut the dollars available for health care. You may want to do some research before you write your letter. Tell your elected representatives in what way you use Tricare, and what you want him or her to do.

A few years ago, some genius left a message on my wife's answering machine informing her she had cancer and asking her to call an appointment line to make arrangements for counseling. My wife called the appointment line repeatedly, but it was either busy or nobody answered. When she finally did get to a real person, she discovered no appointments were available. I worked my way up the hospital's hierarchy to no effect. I finally complained to my general (a line officer), and I learned the same hospital was putting the general's wife through the same hell. My complaint to my general was the straw that broke the camel's back, and my general made a telphone call on my behalf. Shortly after my general's telephone call, my wife received very attentive care. And it turned out the cancer was the result of sloppy lab work -- my wife didn't have cancer at all.

About a year later, I was on a remote PCS, and my wife was having trouble getting an appointment for a routine physical exam back home. I asked my command surgeon for help, explaining the history of this particular hospital. The command surgeon got my wife the appointment she needed, and he told me the hospital gave him all kinds of excuses why their service was so poor.

There's something seriously wrong with a system that requires general officer attention to obtain poor service. I shudder to think what the junior enlisted members and their families go through.

David Jacobs
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