You Asked, MOAA Answered: Who’s affected by the new TRICARE changes?
About the Author

Gina Harkins is MOAA's Senior Staff Writer. She can be reached at ginah@moaa.org. Follow her on Twitter at: @ginaaharkins.

Big changes are coming for TRICARE users, and MOAA wants to make sure you and your family are prepared to take a more proactive approach in selecting the best health care plan. 

New enrollment rules and fees are hitting in 2018 for many TRICARE users. MOAA is working with the Defense Health Agency to help craft communication materials to inform TRICARE users about the changes — but with so many new rules on the horizon, we want to help our members understand who will be affected and when. 

This will be the first part in a series of Q&As on what you need to know about the upcoming changes. 

Part 1 will focus on who will — or won’t — be affected. Part 2 will answer your questions about the new TRICARE enrollment process. Part 3 will address member’s concerns about any changes in access to health care.

“The overarching theme is that we have a new model, a new process,” says Capt. Kathy Beasley, USN (Ret), director of MOAA’s government relations health affairs. “Beneficiaries have to make an active annual choice of their program.” 

Here’s a look at how the changes could affect you. Stay tuned to our website and magazine for more on this topic.   

Let’s start by breaking down what each cohort needs to know about the upcoming TRICARE changes. What should active duty families expect?

Beasley: For active duty servicemembers, there’s going to be virtually no change for them. They get all of their care predominantly in military treatment facilities, and that will not change. They won’t be charged any fees, and if they need care on the outside, it will continue to be authorized. 

For active duty family members, however, there will be some changes. Changes will be minimal for those on TRICARE Prime. But during the new open enrollment season for 2018 — which is expected to run from the end of November through December [2017]— active duty family members need to know that they’ll be automatically enrolled in TRICARE Prime unless they opt out during that period. 

What about the under-65 military retiree?

Beasley: They will also be automatically enrolled during that same November-December [2017] period into the plan they’re already in. For example, if they’re on TRICARE Prime, they’ll automatically be enrolled in that same plan unless they opt out. If they’re on TRICARE Standard, they’ll automatically be enrolled in TRICARE Select, which is the new name for TRICARE Standard. 

If someone wants to switch from TRICARE Standard into TRICARE Prime, or they want to drop their coverage because they’re picking up insurance elsewhere, they’ll have to make that change during the open enrollment period. This is a new change for folks. 

And how about those over the age of 65 who use TRICARE for Life?

Beasley: There are no changes for them. 

Will anything change for dependents between the ages of 21 and 26 who use Tricare Young Adult?

Beasley: TRICARE Young Adult is separate and will remain as is. 

Q. How will the TRICARE Overseas program be affected by these upcoming changes?

Beasley: That will be changed to TRICARE Select, so anyone who wants that plan will need to be aware of the enrollment period to elect the coverage. Other than that, though, nothing should really change about the coverage. 

What about TRICARE Reserve Select?

Beasley: That will stay as TRICARE Reserve as it stands right now. But anyone who uses or wants that plan will need to make sure they enroll for it during open enrollment later this fall. 

Have a question about the new TRICARE rules? Send it to ginah@moaa.org and we’ll get our subject-matter experts to weigh in. 

 
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