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Changes coming to TRICARE

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lane T. Plummer
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
 The Defense Health Agency rolled out some changes last September and are continuing to do so as 2018 approaches.

The biggest change will be that patients’ out-of-pocket costs are going to rise for some TRICARE plans.

Another renovation is simplifying healthcare with TRICARE Select, which is expected to replace both TRICARE Standard and Extra. Other big reorganizations include the combination of TRICARE North and South to form East, the expanded access to urgent care at military hospitals in select locations, and a more standardized system for scheduling medical appointments.

This increase in options is part of the new ‘Take Command’ effort, according to Col. Christopher Patrick, 27th Special Operations Medical Group commander.

“Throughout this transition, [we] remain actively engaged in building awareness and educating beneficiaries about these changes,” Patrick said. “Our goal is for active duty, retirees and family members to feel empowered to 'Take Command' of their health care and make benefit choices that are most appropriate for them.”

Costs for TRICARE benefits will now be charged by the calendar year instead of the fiscal year. Payments that would normally count toward catastrophic caps and deductibles until Oct. 1 will continue to count until the New Year.

TRICARE Enrollees are expected to fall into one of two categories based on when their sponsor first joined the military starting Jan. 1. New TRICARE disenrollment rules are also taking effect then.

The changes will establish an automatic enrollment process to automatically convert patients on Jan. 1, 2018.  It’ll be a transition year with a grace period for enrollment to allow patients time to adjust their healthcare options during the annual open enrollment season. After this period, failure to enroll in TRICARE Prime or Select will result in the termination of coverage for civilian care.

Patients that didn’t switch to a different health plan or enroll in the first time before Nov. 20 will be able to do so after the three-week enrollment freeze is lifted. This freeze will allow for the transition of patient files to the new regional contractors.

For more information on the new TRICARE renovations, reach out to the TRICARE Operations and Patients Administration at 575-784-6975. For the latest information regarding the changes coming to TRICARE, please visit TRICARE.mil/changes. Please check back frequently, as information will be updated as it becomes available.