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The availability of health care for active-duty military personnel and their families is a fundamental component of the services’ commitment to support their personnel. It represents a substantial benefit to military members and families, but, despite this clear value, military health care benefits are not routinely counted as an element of military compensation. The end result is that military members may be unaware of the full value of the health care benefit they receive. RAND used relevant calendar year 2000 data from Fortune 500 employers from Ingenix, a private health information company, to quantify military health care benefits. The accessed claims came from many different employers, insurance carriers, and health plans, and they included beneficiaries in most U.S. states. The authors use these data to describe methods for quantifying the value of military health care benefits from the perspective of active-duty members and their families. Even using conservative estimates, the authors find that the value can be quite considerable, ranging from hundreds of dollars per year for healthy single members, who use little health care but would face health insurance premiums in the civilian sector that they do not face in the military, to thousands of dollars for military families.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Project Methodology

  • Chapter Three

    Findings by Health Plan and Household Type

  • Chapter Four

    Effects on Military Compensation

  • Chapter Five

    How to Communicate the Value of Military Health Care Benefits

  • Chapter Six


The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

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