Military taking pill

Military Health Care: DOD Watchdog Report Highlights Concerns

In a recent report by the Defense Department watchdog, alarming issues within the military health care system have been unveiled, shedding light on challenges faced by the 9.6 million individuals, including uniformed and civilian employees, contractors, veterans, and family members dependent on the system. The report, published on Nov. 29, emphasizes critical shortcomings that demand attention and strategic solutions.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date.

What Does the DOD Watchdog Report Reveal About Military Health Care?

The Defense Department watchdog report scrutinizes the state of military health care, emphasizing concerns related to provider shortages, subpar network options, and prolonged wait times. The report compiles trends identified by watchdogs across various military branches, providing a comprehensive overview of the challenges faced by beneficiaries globally.

How Are Troops and Families Struggling to Access Health Care?

The report identifies significant challenges for service members and their families when attempting to access health care at military treatment facilities. In particular, locations that are small, remote, or recently downsized from a hospital to a clinic face acute issues. These challenges were highlighted in focus groups conducted by the Office of the Naval Inspector General in 2023, where medical care consistently emerged as a top cause of dissatisfaction.

What Specific Issues Are Faced by Sailors and Their Families in Certain Locations?

The Navy pinpointed areas such as Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Naval Air Station Lemoore, California; NAS Whidbey Island, Washington; and NAS Pensacola, Florida, where sailors and families struggle to find care. The shortage of military medical facilities and local in-network providers often compels beneficiaries to rely on TRICARE networks, which may not always be robust or adequate.

How Does the Report Warn About Network Adequacy?

While some beneficiaries rely on TRICARE’s network, the report cautions that certain TRICARE networks may not be robust enough to meet the demand, resulting in difficulties for beneficiaries to obtain network care. This issue is particularly relevant in locations like Naval Health Clinic Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where specialty care is limited.

What Issues Are Highlighted Regarding TRICARE Acceptance?

Both the AirForce and Navy Inspector General’s report complaints about the lack of medical providers willing to accept TRICARE, the global health insurance program for troops, retirees, and their families. The global shortage of specialty providers further exacerbates the challenges faced by beneficiaries relying on this program.

How Has MHS Genesis Contributed to Health Care Issues?

The DOD inspector general has received complaints about MHS Genesis, the Pentagon’s electronic health records system. The system, rolled out since 2017, has led to extended appointment wait times, with some beneficiaries resorting to paying out of pocket for off-base care. Military officials and lawmakers have identified Genesis as a contributing factor to the ongoing recruiting crisis.

Staffing Challenges

The report underscores staffing shortages across all services, with predictions of more than 36% of family medicine billets at stateside military treatment facilities being vacant by summer 2023. The Naval IG report reveals unprecedented attrition and new operational requirements contributing to insufficient active duty family medicine physicians.

Addressing Challenges for a Robust Military Health Care System

Despite an opportunity to respond, the Defense Health Agency did not provide feedback on the report’s recommendations. As the report’s unresolved recommendations underscore, addressing these challenges is imperative to ensure a robust and effective military health care system that meets the diverse needs of its beneficiaries.

Similar Posts


  1. Dear Ben,

    Private healthcare has issues with Tricare insurance personnel and quality of service to providing physician offices. Many specialist have discontinued taking the different forms of Tricare. The basic military health system is not always that great either unless you have an MD, PhD and a JD to navigate the algorithm . Thank you for the insights you bring. Blessings to all for 2024

  2. If the DOD thinks the healthcare is inadequate for active duty military they should see the dismal representation of “so called” healthcare provided in rural areas where large active duty installations are not near by. It’s awful, the community care referral system is not run properly and veterans (even those who have private insurance) are left with inadequate care, underserved and limited to no options. There’s no preventative medicine being provided either, just treating the symptoms. It’s awful that veterans haves some of the worst healthcare conditions compared to every other government sponsored program.

Comments are closed.