JUNE 29, 2020 – For Airmen enrolled in Tricare Reserve Select, there has been a change over the last 60 days on Tricare coverage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ability to request reinstatement if needed due to miscommunication of policy guidelines.
The June 16 policy change stated Tricare “will delay terminating coverage for one month beyond the last paid-through date. During the period of payment delinquency, claims will not be paid and coverage will be terminated retroactively to the last paid-through date.”
This is in contrast to the April 6 message that said Tricare would “delay terminating coverage for selected Reserve members until 90 days after the date the COVID-19 emergency has ended as determined by the Director, Defense Health Agency.”
“There was no policy change, but rather erroneous information was put out regarding Tricare coverage for members who defaulted on premium payments,” said Lt. Col. Costau Bastien, Force Transformation chief, Headquarters Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon. “By law, Tricare is required to suspend coverage after 30 days past the payment due date. The guidance the Office of the Secretary of Defense put out erroneously stated that Tricare would delay suspending coverage until 90 days after COVID operations ceased.”
Bastien said to remedy this disconnect, OSD will allow members up to five months, instead of the original three-month period, to pay overdue premiums to have coverage reinstated and will honor any medical services and bills incurred during that time, once premiums are paid.
Reservists may have to resubmit any previously denied Tricare claims from the period of delinquency for processing.
The colonel said Reserve leadership at both the Pentagon and Air Force Reserve Command, headquartered on Robins Air Force Base, are providing information through functional communities to unit leadership to make sure Reservists are aware of the correct information.
Any member who acted upon the April 6 guidance should contact Tricare immediately to ensure premiums are paid in order to avoid a loss of health care coverage.
Any Reserve members needing financial assistance should contact their unit leadership and local Airmen and Family Readiness Center. Bastian also said as normal operations resume, members should work with their units to accomplish missed Unit Training Assembly periods, which may provide income to cover overdue Tricare premiums.
For more information on Tricare coverage, visit www.tricare.mil. For the East Coast region, visit www.humanamilitary.com or call 800-444-5445. For the West Coast region, contact Health Net at 844-866-9378.
By Sean P. Houlihan, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs