Serving in the U.S. Armed Forces provides many benefits, but not the least of which is medical coverage for yourself and your dependents. TRICARE is the name of the health care program provided for Service Members and their dependents, by the Department of Defense. Services provided include Tricare Pharmacy, Tricare Dental (United Concordia) and other various medical and hospital services.
Things can seem complicated with Tricare, but in reality it’s not as bad as it seems. If a person can understand the various parts and elements of their coverage then understanding the whole program is not nearly as difficult. As with any insurance, knowledge is power, and the key to being able to enjoy your benefits is knowing what they are and how they work.
The program itself, Tricare, is a health care managed program for Activated Guard and Reserves, Retired, and Active duty Service Men and Women. It is available to anyone serving in U.S. Forces at home or overseas, and offers direct access to Service Health Care facilities as well as a supplemental net of health care professionals from the private sector. The plan that all Active Servicemembers are involved in is referred to as Tricare Prime. All retirees and Military dependents are required to choose the Tricare option that best suits their individual needs.
The three areas or coverage choices are:
Tricare Prime, where the treatment facilities are Military related and these facilities are the principal source of all healthcare. Tricare Prime also covers the dependents of Active Duty and Activated reservist, providing coverage at Military hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities.
Tricare Extra, which is a provider, preferred choice designed to try and save money.
Tricare Standard, a service for a fee option (similar to the old CHAMPUS program. Some dependent care, and care for other groups other than active duty uniform and their dependents is handled by Tricare Extra. Care for Retirees is also normally covered by Tricare Extra. The co-payment for Tricare Extra is also generally more than Tricare Prime.
There is also an option for those service members that become (for whatever reason) eligible for Medicare, either due to retirement or qualification because of a disability. This option is called
Tricare for Life, and it is the coverage designed to wrap around for all Medicare entitled members. If a person is entitled to Medicare A and B benefits then Tricare for Life applies to them.