Take command: Changes are coming to TRICARE

FALLS CHURCH, Va. --

Changes are coming to your TRICARE benefit beginning Jan. 1, 2018. These changes will give you more benefit choices, improving your access to care, simplifying cost shares and allowing you to take command of your health.

"Taking command of your health means empowering you with information on the health care coverage choices for you and your family," said Lt Col Amanda Phlegar the 377th Medical Support Squadron Commander.  "Leading up to the Jan. 1, 2018 transition, we will keep advertising the TRICARE changes and resources that are available to our patients."

The best way for you to prepare now is to update your information in DEERS, sign up for TRICARE benefit updates, and visit TRICARE Changes.

Here are changes that you will need to know about:

Region Consolidation

Currently, there are three TRICARE regions in the U.S.: North, South and West. The North and South regions will combine on Jan. 1, 2018 to form TRICARE East, while TRICARE West will remain mostly unchanged. Two new contractors, Humana Military and Health Net Federal Services, will administer these regions. This change will allow better coordination between the military hospitals and clinics and the civilian health care providers in each region.

TRICARE Select

On Jan. 1, 2018, TRICARE Select will replace TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra both stateside and overseas. Stateside, TRICARE Select will be a self-managed, preferred provider network option. You will not be required to have a primary care manager (PCM) and therefore you can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider for services covered by TRICARE without a referral. If you live overseas, TRICARE Overseas Program Select will be a preferred provider organization-styled plan that provides access to both network and non-network TRICARE-authorized providers for medically necessary TRICARE covered services. TRICARE Select adopts a number of improvements, including additional preventive care services previously only offered to TRICARE Prime beneficiaries.  

TRICARE Prime

TRICARE Prime is a managed care program option. An assigned PCM provides most of your care. When you need specialty care, your PCM will refer you to a specialist. Active duty service members and their family members do not pay anything when referred to a network provider by their PCM. All others pay annual enrollment fees and network copayments.

Enrollment

All current TRICARE beneficiaries will be automatically enrolled into plans on Jan. 1, 2018 as long as they are eligible. TRICARE Prime enrollees will remain in TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra beneficiaries will be enrolled in TRICARE Select. During 2018, you can continue to choose to enroll in or change coverage plans.

In fall 2018, TRICARE will introduce an annual open enrollment period. During this period, you will choose whether to continue or change your coverage for the following year. Each year, the open enrollment period will begin on the Monday of the second full week in November and run through the Monday of the second full week in December.

You can begin to prepare for the upcoming changes now by signing up for a DS Logon and updating your personal information in DEERS.

In the coming months, more information will be available at www.tricare.mil/changes. To stay informed, sign up for email alerts. You can also get alerts by signing up for eCorrespondence in milConnect. By staying informed, you’ll be ready for a smooth transition with TRICARE.  There will be a webinar on Thursday, Oct. 5, from 11 a.m. to noon to learn how TRICARE is changing and how to prepare for these changes. Registration is limited.