TRICARE 101: Military Health Benefits Basics in Five Minutes or Less
TRICARE is the health care program for almost 9.4 million service members, retirees and their families around the world that provides military health benefits and health care support to ensure mission readiness. Whether you already have TRICARE or are just starting the enrollment process, take the next five minutes to learn the basics, including how to navigate recent changes.
TRICARE enrollment: Important information before getting started
There is a lot to know about the military health care program before you decide which plan is best for you and your family. In 2018, for the first time, TRICARE implemented an open season beginning for 2019 benefits. Here are important items to know.
- TRICARE open enrollment dates run from the second week of November to the second week of December, and it is your only chance to change or update your TRICARE plan outside of a qualifying life event like PCS orders, births and deaths, and marriage and divorces.
- You or your service member sponsor will need to register the family in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS. You should ensure your contact information remains current year round.
- The TRICARE beneficiary group, Group A or B, determines things like enrollment fees and out-of-pocket costs.
- Several factors go into just how much you’ll pay for your military health benefits. Find your TRICARE costs, including copays, enrollment fees and payment options.
Available TRICARE plans
There are many different TRICARE plans, but TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select are the two primary options for active-duty service members and their families. TRICARE Prime Remote works like TRICARE Prime for active-duty service members and their families assigned to geographical regions where there is no military hospital or clinic nearby. In fact, all active-duty service members must enroll in TRICARE Prime – and will never pay out-of-pocket for any type of care within the network. Their family members and other beneficiaries, though, may choose other TRICARE plans and may incur out-of-pocket fees depending on the plan they choose.
See below for brief descriptions of the most common TRICARE plans available for service members, families and retirees. You can also visit the Plans & Eligibility section on TRICARE’s website to find information on all TRICARE plans and to compare plans.
For a comprehensive list of plan details and changes to the TRICARE program, visit the main TRICARE website and see how your health care may be impacted.
While Military OneSource does not directly manage or facilitate any part of the TRICARE health benefits program, we want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your family to live your best MilLife.