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Major Tricare Changes Kicked Off Jan. 1
Posted on: 01/06/18
This Story Expires on: 03/31/18

 Active duty families won't be able to switch at will between Tricare plans. Instead, they must wait for an open enrollment period or experience a "qualifying life event". Tricare has yet to announce what such events will include. (DoD photo)

A series of major Tricare changes over a year in the making will kick off Jan. 1, ushering in fee changes for almost all beneficiaries, a new plan name, a new regional map and new regional contractors.

The updates are the result of a periodic federally mandated contracting process combined with new legislation passed by Congress in 2016.

Impacts for All Users

Tricare's annual fee schedule will now operate on a calendar year -- January 1 to December 31 -- instead of the fiscal year system used the past. That change impacts all beneficiaries, including Tricare for Life users, who are otherwise untouched by the shifts.

Starting Jan. 1 the plans known as Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra will be combined into a single plan, known as Tricare Select.

Active duty family members who use Tricare Prime will also see no major changes, so long as they stay in that plan.

Starting in 2019, active duty families and those who retire from active duty will no longer be able to switch at will between plans. Instead, they must wait for annual fall "open enrollment" period to move plans or experience a "qualifying life event." Tricare has yet to release a final list of what those “life events” will include.

All users except those in the current South Region will get a new management contractor Jan. 1. Tricare will shift from the current three region system -- Tricare North, South and West -- to a two region East and West system. HealthNet will manage Tricare West, while Tricare East will be managed by Humana.

Fee Changes for Many Users

Current active duty families on Tricare Standard, newly known as Tricare Select, will experience a flat fee system for out of pocket charges instead of the "percentage of allowable charge" system used today.

Those who join the service on Jan. 1 or thereafter and use Tricare Select will see different, often lower, fees, as will users of Tricare's Reserve Select plan. View Tricare's new fee system.

How Changes Will Impact Specific Plans

Although some of Tricare's Jan. 1 changes impact the majority of users, other changes are specific to individual plans.

By Amy Bushatz


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