The Department of Defense Tricare program has shortages of contracted physicians and other providers, in part due to low reimbursements, the General Accounting Office reports in a new study.
The study, released Thursday, adds that the shortages might be greater than previously reported because the department does not effectively oversee provider network adequacy.
It says the Defense Department already has reported a lack of providers in certain areas and has, in part, blamed low reimbursements.
The department has the power to raise reimbursements in areas with low rates and has done so in Alaska and Idaho "with some success," the report adds.
But the GAO says the department cannot fully understand provider shortages in Tricare because the formula it uses to determine supply does not account for the total number of beneficiaries in a certain area.
Oversight work, it adds, is further impeded by incomplete reporting by contractors and lack of systematic collection and analyzation of beneficiary complaints.
The GAO recommends that the department improve its oversight.