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Veterans urged to review Tricare changes

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Recently, a supplemental insurance company utilized by some local veterans announced changes, which could affect costs for retirees, active-duty, and future retirees. Tricare and Tricare for Life will be facing these changes as a result of inner-company and Congressionally ordered adjustments.

“Tricare is a health care program for those on active duty and do not have to pay anything if not stationed near or on a military base,” said Karen Manuel from the Johnson County Veterans Services Office. “Tricare for Life is for military retirees with 20 or more years in service who also must have Medicare Part A and B. If they have Medicare A and B, Tricare for Life can pay their Medicare co pay.”

“Tricare is considered secondary coverage,” Manuel explained. “After your doctor, hospital, or pharmacy is paid by a veteran’s other health insurance, they will file a claim with Tricare or send a bill for any remaining costs. If a veteran receives a bill, they send it to Tricare.”

According to www.military.com, some changes, which affect retired military personnel include: Tricare for Life users will only be impacted by an update to when deductibles and catastrophic caps reset; Tricare plan names, region borders, and managing contractors are changing January 1; All Tricare standard retirees and Tricare Retired Reserve users will see point-of-service fee changes; Retirees of the future force will face annual enrollment fees for all plans; current retirees continue to pay an enrollment fee for Tricare Prime only. For active duty personnel, the most noticeable change will be with the point of service fees moving to a flat cost which will mean higher costs for some visits and lower for others.

Also changing is the way in which participants enroll or switch between Tricare plans. Open enrollment for Tricare will take place in November and December. Changes to a plan during the year will only be allowed following what the company deems a “qualifying life event.”

Military personnel who enrolled in the military after January 1, 2018, will face higher health care costs through Tricare. Their charges will be on a different scale and will include higher registration fees, higher caps, and different point of service charges.

While these changes are essential to those who qualify, Manuel shares that the changes will not affect every veteran, “There will be little change to our local veterans. It just depends on the type of plan they are on. Some will see an increase and others may stay the same. Veterans should contact Tricare to see if they will be affected.”

Veterans and active duty personnel may contact Tricare East by phone at 1-800-444-5445. Tricare information and answers to questions can also be found online at www.tricare.mil.