Changes are coming to TRICARE: Are you ready to become a ‘Guardian’ of your health?

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MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

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

“The 42nd Medical Group Trusted Care Guardians want to empower you to be a Guardian of your health so you can make the right health care and coverage choices for you and your family,” said Col. Beatrice Dolihite, commander, 42nd Medical Group. “Leading up to January 1, 2018, we will connect you with TRICARE resources to navigate your benefit questions.”

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

Changes to know about

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.

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. Beneficiaries will not be required to have a primary care manager, or PCM, and therefore they can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider for services covered by TRICARE without a referral. If beneficiaries 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 is a managed care program option. An assigned PCM provides most of the care. When specialty care is needed, the PCM will refer the patient 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.

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, beneficiaries 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, beneficiaries will choose whether to continue or change their 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.

Take Action Now

To begin to prepare for the upcoming changes now:

In the coming months, more information will be available at www.tricare.mil/changes. To stay informed, sign up for email alerts. Beneficiaries can also get alerts by signing up for eCorrespondence in milConnect. By staying informed, they’ll be ready for a smooth transition with TRICARE.