NOVEMBER 21, 2017, Portsmouth, VA – Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, significant changes to the TRICARE health plan will go into effect. Navy Medicine East (NME) wants patients to “Take Command” of their health and understand what this means for them.
TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and Extra. Patients who currently have TRICARE Standard will be automatically enrolled in TRICARE Select, and don’t need to do anything. Prime enrollees do not need to take any action to continue enrollment and every effort will be made to continue enrollment to the same primary care manager.
“This is the most significant change in the history of TRICARE,” said Shelley Huffman, head of TRICARE Operations Department, NME. “It’s important for beneficiaries to know what changes are coming, and to take command of their health to ensure they have the coverage they need and want.”
Most provisions will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018, with full implementation occurring on Jan. 1, 2019. New East and West regional contractors’ call centers opened today for enrollment questions. For East Region enrollment assistance and information or region specific support and information call 1-800-444-5445 or visit https://www.tricare-east.com, and for West Region call 1-844-866-WEST or visit https://www.tricare-west.com.
Previously patients couldn’t be disenrolled from TRICARE Standard. For example, if a patient was disenrolled from TRICARE Prime, they were still automatically covered by TRICARE Standard. Once TRICARE Standard transitions to TRICARE Select, this automatic coverage will not exist, patients must actively enroll in TRICARE Select. If a beneficiary does not enroll in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select, they will be eligible only for space available care in the MTF. They will not have coverage for civilian care. There are new rules with disenrollment also. If patients are enrolled in a health plan, these are the three ways they can be disenrolled:
- If they no longer wish to continue TRICARE coverage, you can voluntarily disenroll.
- If they fail to pay enrollment or premium fees.
- If the patient or sponsor lose TRICARE eligibility.
After Jan. 1, 2019, once a patient voluntarily disenrolls from TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select, they can only re-enroll during the next annual open enrollment season or if they experience a qualifying life event such as the birth of a child or divorce.
TRICARE plans that include a catastrophic cap or deductible that restart at the beginning of the fiscal year in October will extend until Jan. 1, 2018. This means that patients, who have reached the fiscal year 2017 catastrophic cap or deductible, will not have any additional out-of-pocket costs for authorized TRICARE covered services for the remainder of the calendar year 2017, giving them an extra three months to utilize services this year. Future catastrophic cap and deductible years will follow the calendar year.
The specifics associated with changes in cost, such as deductibles and fees, can be found at https://tricare.mil/About/Changes/General-TRICARE-Changes/Costs. Patients who pay via allotment will not have to do anything; the fees will continue to be paid automatically.
These are only a few changes that will affect patients across NME’s region. For more information on the upcoming changes, visit the TRICARE website at https://tricare.mil/About/Changes
NME oversees the delivery of medical, dental and other health care services to approximately one million patients across almost 100 facilities in the eastern hemisphere—including the Tidewater Military Health System which brings together McDonald Army Health Center, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth and U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley. Plus, its public health activities extend globally. For more information, visit www.med.navy.mil/sites/nme.
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephane Belcher
Navy Medicine East