• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Military Compensation Reform: Taking a Bite Out of Defense Spending

    At last week’s speech at the Air War College, Secretary Gates told the officers present that, “Health care is eating the [Defense] Department alive.” The massive expansion of military compensation spending in the past decade has placed the entire system in jeopardy. Healthcare spending alone for 2010 is set for $47 billion. And in fiscal year 2009, nearly 25 percent of the defense budget was allocated for military compensation. Fortunately, a solution exists.

    According to Mackenzie Eaglen, to achieve cost-effective reform, the system should become more competitive, flexible, and more heavily based on cash compensation; and less on non-cash and deferred benefits. Cash compensation will attract recruits who want to serve in the military, but not make it a career. Not only is this type of compensation more economical, it will alleviate perceived inequalities between military and private sector pay.

    Military healthcare is also in need of major changes. The current system is based on a “one size fits all” mentality. By changing from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution plan, military personnel can remain under the same health care system as they move from job to job. Thus, the service member has continued coverage in both the private and government sectors. This increases flexibility and places responsibility for health care decisions on the service member’s shoulders where it belongs. Consistent with the recommendations of the Tenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation, Congress should also eliminate copayments to “encourage enrollees to seek out such care, improve their health status, and reduce their overall health care costs.”

    Gates’ public recognition of the problem is a good first step. It’s time now to tame the budget beast that is military compensation.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Military Compensation Reform: Taking a Bite Out of Defense Spending

    1. Aaron, N Carolina says:

      And the Democrat want to expand this problem to the whole population?

    2. Aaron, N Carolina says:

      Simply introducing a $20 copay may help this issue within the military

    3. ra,ohio says:

      The problem I see here is the people making policy never served our Country, away from home and family for long periods of time, and when they come back here from duty, they could be either mentally or physically damaged.

      Tightening the "budget" of the government at the expense of our Veterans health requirements is despicable.

      The Vets out there that need help should be supported by the people and the country that they defended.

      Look at the other exorbitant spending going on and I ask you,

      WHERE WOULD YOU RATHER PUT THE MONEY ??

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×