[HEALTH.MIL] DoD to Close Domestic Tricare Service Centers

  • From: HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
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  • Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 15:20:15 -0600

DoD to close domestic Tricare Service Centers

Nov. 14, 2013 - 08:57PM | 


By  <mailto:pkime@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Patricia Kime 
Staff writer

.         Filed Under 

.          <http://www.armytimes.com/section/BENEFITS> Pay & Benefits

.          <http://www.armytimes.com/section/BENEFITS06> Health Care

The Defense Department will close its walk-in Tricare Service Centers in the
U.S., a money-saving move that is part of the reorganization of the military
medical system under the Defense Health Agency.

Tricare officials said Nov. 14 that the walk-in centers, which provide
beneficiaries with face-to-face assistance on claims paperwork, enrollment
changes, processing and more, were inefficient and underutilized.

After a year-long review, military health system leaders concluded that
customers could be better served with a toll-free Tricare telephone customer
service center or online.

"We were making beneficiaries come to us rather than bringing customer service
to them. We are now re-engineering how we deliver service, and removing any
requirement for beneficiaries to 'walk in' at limited, prescribed hours of the
day to get their questions answered or problems solved," Tricare spokesman
Austin Camacho said.

Many centers are located within military hospitals and clinics, but some are in
freestanding buildings on military installations or in the nearby civilian
community. They often are staffed with one or two individuals.

According to data provided by Tricare, utilization rates at service centers have
varied from eight to 3,000 customers per month. The cost of running a center
ranges from $30 to $216 per walk-in customer.

"We saw that many Tricare Service Centers were seeing small numbers of walk-in
customers each day. It didn't make sense to continue this approach from a
customer service perspective or from a cost perspective," Camacho said.

Closing the centers will save a projected $250 million over the next five years.

To accommodate additional customers, Tricare's toll-free customer service call
centers will be improved, to include adequate staff and technology upgrades,
according to Camacho.

Tricare also will bolster its online capacity and provide mobile applications
for "customer-friendly alternatives," he said.

Overseas Tricare Service Centers will not be affected.

The changeover is likely to begin in spring 2014 but Tricare is still "refining"
its plan, Camacho said


SOURCE:  Army Times Article (http://www.armytimes.com/section/BENEFITS06) via
Defense News Early Bird Brief




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