As the Defense Health Agency (DHA) works on implementation plans for the new TRICARE Select enrollment fee, MOAA is advocating for a 12-month grace period for impacted beneficiaries to ensure no retirees lose TRICARE coverage because they were unaware of the new enrollment fee requirement.
“Military retirees have undeniably earned the TRICARE benefit via decades of service and sacrifice. The loss of health care coverage during a pandemic is an unreasonably harsh penalty for missing communications on an unprecedented enrollment fee,” Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA President and CEO, asserted in a letter sent to DHA last week. “A 12-month reinstatement period will minimize the number of military retirees who suffer this unintended consequence.”
Please note the new TRICARE Select enrollment fee impacts only Group A retirees (those who entered service before Jan. 1, 2018.) It does not affect TRICARE for Life (TFL) or TRICARE Prime beneficiaries. It also does not apply to active duty family members, medically retired servicemembers and their families, and survivors on TRICARE Select.
Starting Jan. 1, 2021, Group A retirees and their families must pay a monthly TRICARE Select enrollment fee to maintain TRICARE Select coverage. The charge for an individual plan is $12.50 per month or $150 annually. For a family plan, the enrollment fee is $25 per month or $300 annually. Later this summer, TRICARE will announce the process for setting up an allotment or making other arrangements to pay the fee.
If you don’t take action to pay the enrollment fee, you will be disenrolled from TRICARE Select on Jan. 1, 2021, for failure to pay. Current policy states you will have 90 days to request reinstatement.
Why a Grace Period?
MOAA believes it is important to extend the reinstatement period from three months to 12 for these four reasons:
- Past transitions suggest it is impossible to reach every beneficiary with updates about TRICARE benefits and requirements. Inevitably, some beneficiaries only learn about a new requirement when they try to use their benefit and find out they no longer have coverage.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every facet of life, making it even more difficult to catch the attention of beneficiaries with critical enrollment fee information.
- TRICARE annual open enrollment messaging over the past two years has created a hurdle to effectively communicating the new enrollment fee by emphasizing beneficiaries who want to stay in their current plan don’t have to take any action. This message is still being conveyed on the official TRICARE website.
- A 12-month grace period for the Select enrollment fee would be consistent with the 12-month grace period offered when the TRICARE annual enrollment requirement was established in 2018.
Why Isn’t MOAA Fighting This Fee?
Congress passed this new Select enrollment fee as part of comprehensive MHS Reform legislation in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but it is just now being implemented.
During the FY 2017 NDAA process, MOAA opposed and defeated several proposals for even higher beneficiary cost sharing, including enrollment fees up to $900 and a proposed TRICARE for Life enrollment fee that would have charged Medicare-eligible retirees an annual enrollment fee equal to 2% of gross retirement pay (capped to $632) for TFL participation.
Because the TRICARE Select enrollment fee has been in law for several years and represents a compromise relative to higher fee increases proposed by Congress and the administration budget during the FY 2017 NDAA process, MOAA is focused on ensuring there is an effective communications plan and adequate grace period so beneficiaries do not lose coverage for the 2021 calendar year if they fail to pay the enrollment fee.
MOAA will continue to update its members and others in the military community as TRICARE announces details of the fee-collection process. Access the latest news from MOAA here.