Differences in Beneficiary Assessment of Health Care Between TRICARE Prime (TP) and TRICARE Prime Remote (TPR)Objective: We examined differences in health care ratings and reported health care experiences for active duty military health system beneficiaries using health care plans other than MTFs.
Results: The results of this study indicate that enrollees under TPR experienced generally comparable satisfaction with health care as compared with TP enrollees. In fact, TPR enrollees had higher ratings than did TP enrollees in the patient-provider interaction areas such as doctor communication and helpfulness of office staff. If only metropolitan residents are considered, TPR enrollees had higher ratings in getting care quickly than did TP enrollees. Although TPR enrollees received a flu shot less often than TP enrollees, the evidence showed that there was generally no great distinction in the frequency of receiving preventive care procedures between TPR and TP enrollees. Therefore, the military health system's goal of providing uniform access and quality of care to both TPR and TP enrollees is well achieved based on the findings of this study. Indeed, this study indicates that TP managers could learn from the TPR experience and improve patient satisfaction with plans and providers by altering plan design to permit at least a limited range of choices among providers. Patient satisfaction is higher when patients choose their providers (TPR) and use of some preventive services is higher in managed care plans (TP). Respondents in metropolitan locations differed significantly from those in non-metropolitan locations in ratings of plans, quality of health care received, and access to services. Conclusions: The military health system is achieving some success in delivering a uniform benefit but faces challenges in delivering a high quality uniform benefit in rural communities.