It’s no secret that multiple changes are coming to TRICARE at the turn of the calendar year. Perhaps some of the most important changes revolve around disenrollment. After all, no one wants to lose their health care benefits. . . especially accidentally.
Starting in 2018, beneficiaries can be disenrolled from TRICARE in three ways: Voluntary disenrollment, failure to pay enrollment/premium fees, and loss of eligibility of benefits.
Under current TRICARE rules, if you leave or are disenrolled from TRICARE Prime or other TRICARE plans like TRICARE Young Adult or TRICARE Retired Reserve, you are still covered by TRICARE Standard automatically, without doing a thing. As of January 1, this will no longer be the case. TRICARE Standard will become TRICARE Select in the new year, and enrollment will not be automatic. You’ll need to complete a change form to enroll in TRICARE Select.
During 2018, TRICARE has declared a grace period to enroll or re-enroll in TRICARE Prime or Select at any time during the entire year. If you’re not enrolled in a plan for whatever reason, but are eligible for TRICARE benefits, there are also special allowances so you won’t be completely out of health care options while you’re stuck in disenrollment/re-enrollment limbo.
This grace period will only last one calendar year. Beginning January 1, 2019, re-enrollment after voluntary disenrollment from TRICARE Prime or Select will only be able to happen through a qualifying life event (like marriage or a deployment) or during the annual open enrollment season.
To help mitigate payment issues that may accidentally lead to disenrollment, ensure that your regional contractor has your current information by updating it with them. If you pay by allotment through Uniformed Services Pay Centers or a Defense Financing and Accounting Service, an update isn’t necessary as the payment will transfer to your regional contractor on the first of the year. You’ll also want to keep an eye on any emails, notifications, or letters sent to you by TRICARE. This will help you stay abreast of changes within your region as well as specific information that may affect your family’s situation.
By J.G. Noll