Momentum Builds Toward TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Fix

Momentum Builds Toward TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Fix
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MOAA continues to make headway on the TRICARE young adult coverage parity issue. As of May 18, there were 20 co-sponsors to H.R. 475, the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act, which would bring TRICARE in line with commercial plans by extending eligibility for young adult dependents up to age 26.

 

[TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Representative to Support H.R. 475]

 

By mid-May, MOAA’s councils and chapters, together with participants from the MOAA Uniformed Services Nurse Advocates Virtual Chapter, have held more than 120 meetings with congressional offices to discuss TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) parity and other advocacy priorities.

 

MOAA also has conducted outreach on the Senate side and expects a Senate companion bill to be introduced shortly.

 

As MOAA’s Advocacy in Action event progresses, feedback continues to roll in on the importance of fixing the TRICARE young adult coverage gap. Military families expect TRICARE to match coverage benchmarks established by high quality commercial plans – they are surprised and disappointed when they learn this isn’t the case when it comes to young adult coverage.

 

This can be particularly difficult when they realize their child has lost coverage during a hospitalization, as happened with a family whose daughter was disenrolled from TRICARE when she had to temporarily withdraw from college due to a serious illness. The family had not planned for TYA premiums making the situation even more stressful.

 

We’ve also heard from families who have had difficulty maintaining TRICARE coverage during college breaks. One family recently spent weeks working with university officials and their local DoD ID card office to ensure continuity of TRICARE coverage in the summer between undergrad and graduate school. They eventually had to track down a 352-page regulation to verify their daughter’s TRICARE eligibility and obtain the documentation required to update the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

 

[READ THE ISSUE PAPER: TRICARE Young Adult Coverage Parity]

 

We are also concerned TRICARE’s failure to cover young adults up to age 26 has pushed some military retirees to purchase their employer-sponsored plans to gain young adult coverage, foregoing their earned TRICARE benefit as primary payer. As TYA premiums rise, more and more retirees may perceive this as the best option – a recent article at FedSmith.com highlighted the advantages of Federal Employee Health Benefit plans for young adult coverage versus TRICARE. Any policy that makes employer-sponsored coverage more financially attractive than TRICARE to military retirees must be addressed.

 

Health care coverage is constantly evolving to adapt to new technologies such as 3D mammograms; treatment protocols such concurrent hospice for terminally ill military kids; and eligibility criteria, as in the case of young adult dependents. Military families should be able to trust TRICARE coverage policy is at least as good as high-quality commercial plans.

 

Identifying and fixing TRICARE coverage gaps is a top priority for MOAA – please help us by contacting your elected officials today and urging them to co-sponsor H.R. 475, the Health Care Fairness for Military Families Act.

 

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About the Author

Karen Ruedisueli
Karen Ruedisueli

Ruedisueli is MOAA’s Director of Government Relations for Health Affairs and also serves as co-chair of The Military Coalition’s (TMC) Health Care Committee. She spent six years with the National Military Family Association, advocating for families of the uniformed services with a focus on health care and military caregivers.