As an active-duty military member or veteran, you must be worried about the healthcare expenses for you and your family. How are you going to manage them while being on duty or struggling to combat mental health challenges?
Well, if these worries do surround you, let us relieve you with good news; the Military Healthcare System supports all service members. It’s one of the most advanced and complex medical institutions in America.
The MHS works closely with the Defense Manpower Data Center to keep track of military members’ and their families’ information. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on active duty or a veteran. They have something in the house for everyone who has served the nation!
Below, we’ve researched and compiled everything you should know about healthcare for military members and their families. Read more!
Understanding the MHS & TRICARE
The Military Healthcare System, also called MHS, is America’s medical organization for the defense sector. It provides medical services to all US forces, ranging from the army to the navy.
Military members receive these services both on and off the battlefield. Apart from this, the Military Healthcare System also strives to combat diseases spreading throughout the world.
There exists a specialized program within the MHS that is TRICARE. This program offers primary health care to uniformed service members, their dependents, and retirees globally.
It means the program will cover medical expenses and facilities regardless of region. You can go outside the US and still avail the benefits.
Services Covered by TRICARE Program
TRICARE is a comprehensive healthcare program that covers all types of mental and physical medical services. It includes dental and drugs-related facilities too.
However, the program provides both inpatient and outpatient treatments that are mandatory for successful recovery. It won’t offer unnecessary services, such as acupuncture, autopsy, etc.
Who is Eligible for TRICARE?
All military members, including active-duty and members from National Guard and Reserve, are eligible for TRICARE. Also called sponsors, these individuals get automatically enrolled in the program.
People who are dependent on these sponsors are also eligible for TRICARE. Family members of the deceased military members and Medal of Honor recipients can avail the healthcare program too.
Veterans (members who have left the military) may also join it. However, all of these people must register themselves and then complete the TRICARE enrollment procedure.
The registration gets done through Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, better known as DEERS.
Types of TRICARE Plans
Currently, TRICARE healthcare for military members and their families includes 11-different types of plans. These include:
· TRICARE Prime
· TRICARE Prime Remote
· TRICARE Prime Overseas
· TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas
· TRICARE Standard and Extra
· TRICARE Standard Overseas
· TRICARE for Life
· TRICARE Reserve Select
· TRICARE Retired Reserve
· TRICARE Young Adult
· U.S. Family Health Plan
These plans differentiate from each other in terms of the type of military member availing. For example, active-duty members can avail TRICARE Prime, Prime Remote, Overseas, Remote Overseas, depending on where they are present.
However, active-duty members can enroll in other plans too. These include TRICARE Select, Select Overseas, Young Adult, TRICARE for Life, and U.S Family Health Plan.
Similarly, National Guard or Reserve members and their families can choose a plan depending on their status. In inactive status (not on service for 30-days or less), these people can avail of TRICARE Reserve Select.
Meanwhile, these members with inactive status (performing services for 30+ consecutive days) can avail the same plans as active-duty members.
How to Enroll in the TRICARE Program?
Enrolling in this program is a fairly simple process. You can enroll using phone, mail, in-person at an office, or even online. By far, the most convenient method is online.
· Open the TRICARE official website and log into your account.
· Click on the enrollment section.
· Choose between plans and medical/dental programs.
And, that’s it. Once done, the relevant authorities will contact you for further processing. If you are unsure about the plan type selection as a beneficiary, then you can also use the TRICARE Plan Finder tool. It is available on the website.
What are the costs?
Contrary to the popular misconception, TRICARE is not a completely free program. It has pricing systems that vary with the member type.
Active-duty servicemembers and their families do not pay any fees for any services. However, they will get charged on the usage of network/TRICARE pharmacy home delivery, TRICARE Select, and TRICARE Prime plan without a referral.
When active, National Guard and Reserve members and their families have to follow similar pricing plans as active-duty members.
For inactive ones, they will have to use the TRICARE Reserve Select plan that is $47.20 in 2021. The fees may increase over time. So, check the site for the latest updates.
Summing it up, healthcare for military members and their families is readily accessible. The well-developed MHS and TRICARE program ensures all your medical requirements are met without worries.