Military Health Policy Research at RAND


More than nine million active duty, Reserve, and retired military personnel along with their dependents are eligible to receive health care through the military health system of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In addition, nearly six million veterans receive health care benefits and services from the Veterans Health Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

DoD, the nation’s largest health care provider, faces challenges both unique to the military environment and similar to those faced by civilian health systems. For example, DoD must maintain deployable medical assets to support military operations, facilitate medical readiness of the troops, and at the same time, offer integrated health care to beneficiaries—all while controlling rising health care costs. The VA health care system also faces challenges in serving its population within a fixed budget. Both systems provide primary and specialty health care services to diverse populations, including the war wounded, through a system of federal facilities located across the country and by purchasing civilian-based health care services.

The overarching goal of military health policy research at RAND is to help DoD and VA meet the challenges of providing the best care possible while containing costs. Military health research is conducted across departments, and aims to:

  • help all branches of the military address emerging health care policy issues
  • assist DoD in assessing policy regarding health care services for military personnel, their families, retirees, and those eligible for VA services
  • help the VA with health care system management issues.

Research Approach

Researchers from RAND's Health division work with experts from the Army Health Program, and the Forces and Resources Policy Center (FRP) on military health projects. Army Health is part of RAND Arroyo Center, the federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) for the U.S. Army. FRP is a center within the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), which conducts research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the defense agencies, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Navy.

This unique union of RAND divisions creates an interdisciplinary research environment that allows the center to tap corporate expertise in both defense and health policy. RAND experts include physicians, economists, psychologists, mathematicians, organizational analysts, political scientists, psychometricians, medical sociologists, policy analysts, operations researchers, and statisticians. Researchers are thus able to tackle unique issues of importance to military health care and influence policy on rapid timelines. Funding for much of the center’s work comes from the DoD, the VA, and the private sector.


RAND has been conducting military health studies since the early 1970s, when its researchers examined physician supply and the use of physicians’ assistants in order to answer questions critical to the introduction of the all-volunteer force. In the 1980s, RAND applied its expertise in health care finance to support the development of TRICARE, DoD’s health care program that replaced the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) in 1995.

Military health policy research at RAND addresses a wide range of topics in medical readiness during wartime and peacetime. You can learn more about our current projects and completed research on this website.