Pentagon Pays More for Prescription Drugs Than Other Federal Health Programs


As the Defense Department looks to lower its compensation expenditures to meet required spending reductions, it may want to reexamine its pharmaceutical policies.

A recent Government Accountability Office report found the Pentagon pays more for prescription drugs per unit than other major federally sponsored health care packages. In 2011, Defense spent $7.5 billion on prescription drugs for about 10 million beneficiaries.

Overall, Defense spent an average of $0.99 per unit, while Medicare Part D paid $0.82 per unit and Medicaid paid just $0.62. Defense is limited in its ability to negotiate, GAO found, because it must cover all drugs within a therapeutic class and only covers prescriptions filled at retail stores.

Active-duty military personnel do not pay anything toward their covered prescription drugs, though Obama has called for active-duty families to face a co-payment. To date, Republicans in Congress have rejected any changes to TRICARE and military health care. 

(Image via mady70/

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