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Tricare changes coming in January

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Changes are coming to the TRICARE program Jan. 1, 2018, which will give beneficiaries more choices, improve access to care and simplify cost shares, according to a TRICARE press release. 

The David Grant USAF Medical Center will hold a town hall meeting at 2 p.m. Dec. 12 in the auditorium for TRICARE beneficiaries to discuss some of the changes, said Rick Tapnio, DGMC marketing director.

The Department of Defense announced in July that TRICARE will be consolidated into two regions rather than three. This should reduce administrative costs, improve continuity of care and make it easier for beneficiaries to transition when moving within and between regions.

The North and South regions will become TRICARE East, managed by Humana Military.  TRICARE West remains unchanged; however, it will be managed by Health Net Federal Services LLC.   

Beneficiaries automatically will be enrolled in their respective plans as long as they are eligible for TRICARE and registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. TRICARE is encouraging beneficiaries to make sure their information in DEERS is correct.   

Prime enrollees will remain in TRICARE Prime; however, TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra beneficiaries will be enrolled in TRICARE Select, a self-managed, preferred provider network plan.  

TRICARE Select will offer additional preventive care services not previously available, including cancer screenings, vaccines and well-woman and well-child exams.  Under this plan, beneficiaries are not required to have a primary care manager and can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider for covered services without a referral. 

While the change in contractors should not affect members’ coverage or care, beneficiaries should save pharmacy and other covered health care receipts to be reimbursed once the freeze is lifted, according to the TRICARE website.

People who currently pay enrollment fees using electronic funds transfer or a recurring credit card need to re-establish those payment methods with the new contractors.  The Health Net deadline is Dec. 20 and the Humana Military deadline is Dec. 24, according to the agencies’ websites.

TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve and TRICARE Young Adult premiums must be paid through an automatic payment method. 

TRICARE will continue to deduct enrollment fees for people with allotments unless the deduction is canceled. 

TRICARE enrollments will be frozen for three weeks starting Dec. 1 to allow beneficiary information to be transitioned to the new regional contractors.   

During the freeze, the contractors will accept enrollment applications and automatic enrollment fee applications by mail or fax.  For instructions, visit: www.tricare.mil/changes/enroll.

People who do not enroll in a TRICARE plan and those who dis-enroll from their current plans after Jan. 1 may still receive care at a military clinic or hospital on a space-available basis. 

Additionally, prescriptions received through a home delivery system or from a civilian retail pharmacy no longer will be covered for these individuals, although they can get prescriptions from a military pharmacy if the medication is available.     

TRICARE beneficiaries can continue in or change coverage plans in 2018.   For more information, visit: https://www.tricare.mil.