Changes are Coming to Tricare - Be Prepared
About the Author

Ostrom retired from the Air Force in 2000 after serving in a variety of personnel, education and training, and executive officer assignments. His assignments included tours in North Dakota, Florida, Korea, Australia, and the Pentagon. His final assignment was on the Joint Staff, writing and championing legislation related to joint officer personnel management issues. He earned numerous decorations and awards over his Air Force career.

After Air Force retirement, Ostrom was a practicing investment advisor at a large investment firm and a bank. He specialized in working with clients developing, implementing, and managing investment plans and portfolios.

A native of San Antonio, he earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts and is a graduate of the Royal Australian Air Command and Staff College and the U.S. Air Command and Staff College.

Ostrom joined the MOAA staff in 2006. His responsibilities include researching and writing articles and answering member inquiries regarding military benefits, health care, survivor issues, and financial concerns. He also travels extensively to discuss these matters with servicemembers and retirees and their families.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) made numerous changes to our Tricare health system. For those of you under Tricare Prime or Tricare for Life, you can rest easy this time. Nothing comes your way. For you Tricare Standard folks, heads up!  

Let’s start with the change that requires your action. Beginning 1 January 2018, you must be enrolled in Tricare Standard. Oh by the way, at the same time, Tricare Standard gets a name change to “Select.”  

Tricare Standard…um…Select never required enrollment as Tricare Prime did. But in the Fall of 2017, be prepared to enroll. You will receive official word from DOD by letter closer to the fall time period. In addition, MOAA will give you notice about how and when to enroll once the procedure is determined by the DOD. This will become an annual enrollment process.  

Because there is always someone who doesn’t get the word, a grace period is built into the enrollment process. If you don’t enroll in the Fall 2017, you will get one doctor visit in 2018 at out-of-network rates and then you will be told to enroll and how.  

Now for the part that impacts your wallet. Starting on 1 January 2020, Tricare Select will have an annual premium like Tricare Prime. This is on top of the existing deductible and co-insurance costs. The annual premium will be $150 for singles and $300 for families. The annual premium will not be levied on the currently serving, medical retirees, or survivors whose military spouse died while on active duty. After 2020, the annual premium will increase based on the same Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) as retired pay.  

Also, in 2020, the Tricare Select catastrophic cap goes up for retirees to $3500 a year from the old $3000. This is tied to COLA increases in subsequent years as is the annual premium. The cap will stay at $1000 per year for currently serving families. The cap represents the maximum out-of-pocket costs a member faces in a fiscal year before Tricare pays full freight. No other Tricare caps are effected.  

New programs on the horizon: retiree vision and dental plans; hearing aids at DOD cost; and a Reserve component health plan similar to the federal civilian health plans. To quote SGT Schultz, “We know nothing!” yet. Stay tuned for details as they develop.

Be sure to sign-up for our MOAA e-newsletters to stay up to date on important issues and deadlines.

 
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