WASHINGTON, D.C. — To ensure military Families don’t get
left out as the new national health care reform law extends parent’s
health insurance to their children up to age 26, TRICARE plans to roll
out its new Young Adult Program by spring and to provide an option to
make coverage retroactive to Jan. 1.
The new program will allow qualified, unmarried military children up to
age 26 to buy health care coverage under their parents’ TRICARE plans
through age 26, defense officials announced Jan. 13. That’s up from the
current maximum age of 21, or 23 for full-time college students whose
parents provide more than half their financial support.
The fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act President Barack
Obama signed Jan. 7 gave the Defense Department the authority it needed
to extend TRICARE coverage to young adults, TRICARE spokesman Austin
This ensures benefits extended under TRICARE are in line with those all
American Families receive under the Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act that took effect in March.
“We’ve been working hard to make sure we could put TRICARE Young Adult
on a fast track,” said Navy Rear Adm. (Dr.) Christine Hunter, who heads
the TRICARE Management Activity. “Fortunately for our beneficiaries
concerned about health-care coverage for their adult children, the law
signed by the president includes opportunities for military Families to
elect this new premium-based plan retroactive to Jan. 1.”
Qualified young adults who don’t have access to employer-sponsored
health care coverage will be eligible to purchase it through TRICARE on
a month-to-month basis, Camacho said.
Details about how much those premiums will cost under the new program
still are being finalized. But because the 2011 defense authorization
specifies that the rates must cover all program costs, Camacho said,
premiums will be based on commercial insurance data about the costs of
providing care. Once the new program is in place, Hunter estimated that
it could extend TRICARE coverage to several-hundred-thousand additional
“The premium allows us to provide the excellent benefit to our military
Families while responsibly addressing the impact of health -care costs
on the DOD budget,” she said.
Meanwhile, the TRICARE staff has moved into overdrive to iron-out the
program details: determining eligibility and coverage criteria and
costs; designing, testing and implementing the required software and
systems changes; updating eligibility databases; and crafting education
efforts, Camacho said.
Officials plan to roll out the new program in two phases, first offering
a premium-based TRICARE Standard/Extra benefit, Camacho said. Then,
later this year, they plan to introduce the TRICARE Prime and TRICARE
Prime Remote plan, including overseas options, and the Uniformed
Services Family Health Plan.
Once the program is in place, eligible young adults may submit an
application and premium payment to the appropriate regional or overseas
contractor for processing, Camacho said. Cost shares, deductibles and
catastrophic caps will vary, based on the plan selected and the
Young-adult beneficiaries will receive an enrollment card after they buy
coverage, and their payment is reflected in the Defense Eligibility
Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS), Camacho said.
The new beneficiaries may choose to pay premiums back to Jan. 1, which
will entitle them to file claims for any health-care costs they have
accrued since that date. To do so, officials advise that they save all
receipts to ease claims processing. For adults who need health-insurance
coverage but no longer qualify for TRICARE coverage, officials advise
exploring the Continued Heath Care Benefit Program. This premium-based
program offers temporary, transitional health coverage for 18-36 months.
Coverage must be purchased within 60 days of losing TRICARE eligibility.
Information about the program is posted on the TRICARE website.
For more information about TRICARE, visit the TRICARE website at
http://www.tricare.mil or call the
TRICARE North Region at 1-877-TRICARE (1-877-874-2273) or in the Fort
McCoy community, call the Health Benefits Adviser office at
Information about the TRICARE program also is provided to Soldiers
demobilizing at Fort McCoy, said Pam Redmann, installation Health
Mobilizing Soldiers receive a TRICARE briefing as part of their
Military-eligible personnel and their Families using TRICARE must be
registered in DEERS. For more information about DEERS, visit the website
or call 1-800-538-9552.