[HEALTH.MIL] Retirees pushed off Tricare Prime may be allowed back in & TRICARE Customer Service is Available Online and On the Phone

  • From: HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: <HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <TFL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:39:14 -0600

Retirees pushed off Tricare Prime may be allowed back in

Dec. 10, 2013 - 06:00AM | 


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

More than 171,000 military retirees and family members booted from Tricare Prime
on Oct. 1 when the Defense Department cut coverage areas for its managed health
program could get their old health plans back under the compromise 2014 defense
bill under consideration in the House and Senate.

The bill contains a "one-time election to continue enrollment in Tricare Prime"
for affected beneficiaries - a proposal floated in May by Reps. Mac Thornberry,
R-Texas, and John Kline, R-Minn., after constituents in their districts learned
they would lose the option to stay in Prime.

The $632.8 billion compromise bill, which still requires approval in the House
and Senate before it becomes law, would allow beneficiaries a one-time chance to
stay in Prime as long as they continue living in the same ZIP code where they
opted into Prime.

The Pentagon reduced the availability of the Tricare Prime managed-care program
to locations within 40 miles of an active or former military base on Oct 1,
forcing 171,000 retirees and family members to switch to Tricare Standard, a
traditional fee-for-service health care program with higher out-of-pocket costs
than Prime.

The Pentagon said shrinking Prime will save the government $45 million to $65
million a year, based on estimates that DoD pays an average of $600 more per
year to provide Prime to a beneficiary than Standard.

But affected beneficiaries felt abandoned by the system, given that the Pentagon
began planning in 2007 to reduce its Prime service areas but did not publicize
the change.

Media reports in October 2012 alerted both affected beneficiaries and lawmakers
to the pending reduction.

In a summary of the compromise bill released Monday, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif.,
chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, said committee members believe
health care for retired service members is "a benefit earned through prior
service to our nation."

"Promises made should be promises kept, and the Pentagon should not break faith
with our nation's heroes," Kline said earlier this year after proposing the

The compromise defense bill, which authorizes $32.9 billion for the defense
health program, includes no significant increases in health care fees for
military retirees and their families.

Lawmakers rejected White House efforts to raise fees markedly for retirees on
Tricare Prime and create new fees for working-age retirees on Tricare Standard
as well as for Medicare-eligible retirees and their families on Tricare for

According to a House Armed Services Committee release, lawmakers believe that
recent reforms, such as allowing Tricare Prime fees and pharmacy costs to be
raised yearly in proportion to the annual cost of living increase, place Tricare
on a "sustainable path" and new fees are unnecessary.

"The [Defense Department's] record of incorrectly calculating Tricare costs and
their repeated requests to transfer billions in unused funds out of the program
to cover other underfunded defense priorities raises questions about repeated
claims by the Defense Department that the defense health program is
unsustainable," the release states.

Other provisions in the bill include requirements for:

│The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to develop and implement policies
on treating and helping service members who have sustained severe injuries to
their reproductive and urinary tract systems.

│DoD to carry out a pilot program for clinical trials of investigational
treatments of brain injury and PTSD at non-military facilities.

│DoD and VA to establish and deploy an integrated electronic health record
system by Dec. 31, 2016.

Related Links

·          <http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131127/BENEFITS06/311270031>
TriCare Help: If couple enroll in Prime, other plan not required

 <http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131121/OFFDUTY/311210018> Tricare Help:
Spouse can maintain Tricare eligibility throughout marriage

NOTE:  You may view\post comments about this article at


SOURCE:  ArmyTimes article at


TRICARE Customer Service is Available Online and On the Phone 



TRICARE offers multiple, convenient online and telephone customer service
options for beneficiaries who have questions about their health care benefit
and, if necessary, help them reach out to the regional contractors for

On the TRICARE website beneficiaries can:

·         Fill out a profile to get customized and immediate benefit information

·         Check frequently asked questions (FAQs) to get answers to a question
without calling in; and 

·         Email TRICARE to ask a specific benefit question

Beneficiaries can also find numbers to reach the North, South and West regional
contractors for customer service at www.tricare.mil/CallUs. Health care services
for beneficiaries in the North Region are managed by Health Net Federal
Services, LLC. Help is available at www.hnfs.com or 1-877-874-2273.
Beneficiaries in the South Region can reach out to Humana Military at
www.humana-military.com or 1-800-444-5445. UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans
manages health care services for the West Region. The web address is
www.uhcmilitarywest.com and the toll-free number is 1-877-988-WEST (9378).
Overseas beneficiaries can visit www.tricare-overseas.com/ContactUs and choose
the region and country where they're located for country-specific toll-free

TRICARE also provides a downloadable contact wallet card beneficiaries can print
and keep with them to have an instant reference to TRICARE health plan
information worldwide. To download this form, visit www.tricare.mil/CallUs and
click on "TRICARE Contact Wallet Card." 

Last Updated 12/11/2013

SOURCE:  TRICARE News Release at


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