By J.G. Noll
Brace yourselves. . . TRICARE changes are coming. Congress’ 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) retooled parts of the military health care system. Here’s what you need to know:
TRICARE Prime or TRICARE for Life
Beneficiaries of Prime and Life will not see changes to their health care at this time.
First, let’s start with the name change. TRICARE Standard will be known as TRICARE Select. Starting January 1, 2018, anyone who wishes to use TRICARE Select instead of TRICARE Prime will need to be enrolled. From that point forward, enrollment will be annual– all TRICARE Select users will need to enroll every year. This is a major change as Standard in its current iteration does not require enrollment like Prime does.
Enrollment will begin in the fall of 2017. The procedure for TRICARE Select will be outlined in an official letter from the Department of Defense at some point in the fall. Currently, the procedure has not yet been determined. There will be a grace period for those who do not enroll by the end of 2017. Stragglers will be able to access one 2018 doctor’s visit at out-of-network rates.
TRICARE Select will have an annual premium that users will be responsible for. Single users will pay $150 each year; families will pay $300. Those who are currently serving, medical retirees, or spouses whose active duty partner died will not be subject to the premium. Beneficiaries will still need to pay existing deductibles and co-insurance costs.
Looking into the future, TRICARE Select’s catastrophic cap for retirees will increase from $3,000 to $3,500 per year. (Current serving families will continue to see a cap at $1,000 per year.) Both catastrophic cap increase and the annual premium will be tied to cost of living increases in the future.
J.G. Noll is the Editor of Military One Click and a veteran’s spouse. She can be reached at [email protected]