Pros:three choices to chose from, available to all uniformed services
Cons:poor customer service, claims and referrals can be hard to deal with
The Bottom Line: Tricare is a military medical program. There are many pros and cons to the three different Tricare programs.
I am a military wife and have been dealing with Tricare for years now. Do I like it? At times. Do I dislike it? At times. Do I recommend it? Yes, because if you are a military dependent and do not work, what other choice do you have? None, but Tricare.
Recommend this product?
What is Tricare? Tricare is a military medical program. It is offered to all branches of the military including Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, Army, and any other branch I may have left out. Tricare used to be known as Champus. Before I go further, Tricare is broken into three categories and I will explain them later, but the categories are Tricare Prime, Tricare Standard, and Tricare Extra.
Who is eligible? Let me break it down for you. First, active duty members only have the option of Tricare Prime. Spouses and unmarried children of active duty members; uniformed-services retirees, spouses and unmarried children; unremarried spouses and unmarried children of active duty and retirees who are deceased; spouses and unmarried children of reservist who serve active duty for at least 30 days; and former spouses of active duty members who were married to the active duty member who served twenty years. I believe that you have to be married to the member for at least half of their twenty years. NOTE: Unmarried children are covered up until the age of 21.
Now I will break the three categories down. We are on Tricare Prime so I will talk about this one first. Tricare Prime has no enrollment fee for active duty members and their families; however retirees and their families do have an enrollment fee. If you live near or on a military base as we do you have priority to being seen by the military doctors first. You do have the option of going on the outside, but I use the military facilities on our base. NOTE: As of April 1, 2001 there are no copays when you use civilian doctors. I know many are not aware of this, but it did go into effect and if you have any questions call Tricare because this is accurate. Tricare Prime does have a disadvantage that if you need to receive any kind of specialty care you do have to have a referral. In my case, having Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and being Agoraphobic, I have to have a referral to use any mental health facilities. Since I mentioned this, I will state that some bases do have mental health facilities for dependants, but a majority do not. In my case, I have to use a civilian doctor, but I do not have to pay a co-pay any more.
Tricare Standard is the same as the old standard champus. You chose the doctor of your choice, not using military doctors as much. There is no enrollment fee and you have a wide variety of doctors to chose from. You have to do all your own claim filing and you also have to pay a deductible and a co payment. You can use Tricare Extra with standard. I chose not to use this service, one I am not made out of money and two, I live on the base and the facilities are closer to me and they suit our needs just fine.
Tricare Extra is a little more complicated to understand. With Tricare Extra you have to chose a doctor from a list of doctors in the Tricare provider directory, so you are limited to the choice of doctors. There are some advantages though. With Tricare Extra your copayment is 5% less than that of Tricare Standard. There is no enrollment fee and you may also use Tricare Standard.
I know this will not make much sense to many, but I sure it helps some other military families out there. I have done a lot of investigating into Tricare. As with all Tricare programs you must be enrolled into the DEERS program to be able to use their services. DEERS stands for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. This system keeps records of who is on Tricare and is available world wide.
As I stated earlier I use Tricare Prime. It is more convenient for me and my family. I do like Tricare to a point, but I will state that their customer service 9 out of 10 times is really poor. That has been in my experience. It can be hard to obtain referrals and if you ever have to submit a claim, beware, it can take a long time to get any thing settled. All in all, Tricare is my insurance provider and I am overall satisfied with my doctors and the care my children receive.
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